THE QUEENS VIEW AFFAIR - 5.3

[Book V, Act III, Scene I. The Trailer. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, CLINT, HARVEY, MONTY and SMOCK are here, being thrown about the trailer which is being driven at high speed through the town. Many of the townspeople give chase, throwing bits of rotten fruit at it, but are soon left behind.]

Clint : [Eating a partially rotten tomato as the carriage passes out through the gates] Mm-mm! That is a tasty missile!

Alice : [Clinging to the side of the carriage to prevent herself from being thrown out] Who knew that being bounced around on a pile of hay could be so little fun!

Smock: [Having a rollicking good time aboard the trailer] Woo-hoo! This is just like the getaways of heroes in stories, but without any witty one-liners to depart with. [Yells to the front of the carriage] Mr driver-man, sir. Where are we going?

[The party can see that the driver is, indeed, SCHMICHAEL, and that PINK CASSIDY is in the carriage with him. SCHMICHAEL slowly looks behind him, directly at SMOCK, before slowly looking forwards again, but never slowing his breakneck speed as he does so.]

Pink : [Shouting to be heard over the roar of the horses] Taking you to a secret location!

Smock: Ugh. [To party] Do you know that guy? Why is he covered in bandages? [Yelling to Pink] Cool!

Pink : Right! [Says something that the party can't quite hear because of the noise, but finishes with a smile and a thumbs up, before turning back]

Alice : Yes, that's Schmichael Umacher, the greatest carriage driver in the whole realms. He uh, well, I guess he was in a carriage crash, a big fiery wreck that killed everyone except him.

Clint : [Lighting up a cigar] Yeah, we better be careful!

Alice : Is there any reason we have to be back here? Why don't we get in the carriage? That way Schmichael can tell us what's going on.

Smock: Well, I s'pose you gotta be pretty good to make a carriage catch fire and be the only one who escapes. [Glances warily at the hay they are sitting in] You do know that we're sitting on some highly flammable material right now...

Chastity : What? Climb over and into a moving carriage? You've been listening to too many of this youngsters heroic tales. Best let the carriage get away and stop before attempting anything so reckless.

Alice : Come on! It'll be a cinch! [Stands up, but immediately falls to the floor from the movement] Ow.

Smock: You can't just stand up, you gotta try being all daring and stealthy, like there's a bad guy in the front seat who you gotta sneak up on. [Attempts to climb toward the front of the carriage]

[SMOCK easily gets over the front of the trailer, but SCHMICHAEL suddenly jams on the brakes, sending her flying into the back window of the carriage with a sickening squelch.]

Harvey : [Gets up and dusts himself off] Ah! All things come to those who wait.

[SCHMICHAEL and PINK get out of the carriage.]

Pink : Wow! Are you guys in a lot of trouble!

Alice : We think so.

Clint: [Offers Smock a hand. To Pink, puffing on his cigar furiously] Why?! What'd we do??

Smock: [Tumbles out of the carriage after Pink. Takes Clint's hand and gets to her feet, looking a little dazed.] Is someone else cranky at us?

Chastity : [Getting Out of the carriage] Yes. Even if these stories were true, [quickly and defensively] which obviously they are not [back to normal] why would the towns people react with such hostility?

Pink : Because [emphasis] every newspaper and tv station in the place is full of stories of the awful things you've done. Between you, you've managed to offend just about everyone in the realms - for once, everyone is united.

Chastity : I don't see we have much choice. It's only down to Peters quick thinking we got to see Louise in the first place. I think a jail break may be one of those bad choices or rash decisions that the cards talked of. [pauses] As suggested by the fool, I believe.

Alice : [Clearly not sure if she's just been insulted or not] I - uh, um. Okay.

[ERNIE is waiting at the main door of the cells, looking uncharacteristically happy. He beckons the party towards him.]

Ernie : Come on everyone! Quick! The party can't start without all of you!

Chastity : What party? [Suddenly smiles] Don't tell me we're about to get a King Peter? Are we?

Ernie : [Chatting away happily] Oh, not yet, I'm afraid! But soon, hopefully! The Queen has arranged a party to thank you for all your help. She's just so happy, it's wonderful to see her like this.

[ERNIE brings the party to a room, and opens the door with some ceremony.]

Ernie : Ta da! Here they are!

[POSIE is inside, glaring.]

Posie : What the hell are you doing bringing those bastards in here?

Ernie : [Totally shocked] Er, uh, um, I - I thought that's what you wanted.

Chastity : [Looks round the room for any party crowds or Peter. To Ernie] What you meant?

Ernie : I thought there was going to be a party!

Posie : [Throws a tabloid newspaper on the table in front of the party] Look at that!

Alice : [Picks up the paper and starts reading, painfully slowly] We - wine - win! Uh, what's that next word?

Smock : [Glances at the paper] A.

Alice : Win A Purse? Cool, what kind of purse is it? Is there money in it?

Posie : [Snatches the paper back] No! That's not what I meant - and it's win a prize, you moron - this is what I meant! [Shows the paper to party, and the headline screams "The Queens View Party - The Sleazy Truth"] There's an angry mob outside, and they blame me for bringing you in, me! And they love me!

Chastity : This is obviously a false article instigated by Jerome Trindle. Who is the author of this story, if they dared to put a name to this rubbish!

Austin : [Takes the paper] Michael Portico. [To the party] He's the one who runs that PR company which tried to sell a whole lot of cheap tat using our images.

Posie : I don't care if it's false or not - get the hell out of my castle!

Harvey : [Bows to Posie] Very well madam, we shall leave. But know this, your majesty, this article is nothing but untruths designed to impune our honour and appeal to the fickle tastes of the great unwashed! [To the others] Come troop, let us leave this place!

Austin : [Holds up his hand] I quite understand your desire to leave, Colonel, but this is simply outrageous. What scandalous allegations have been made against us?

Posie : [Points at each of the party members with the rolled up paper, starting with Clint] Murdered his father [Chastity] isn't really a nun [Monty] let a man die [Smock] shopped her parents to the cops [Harvey] deliberately sent an innocent man to his death [Austin] and gay!

Alice : [Watching each of the others get pointed out] Is there anything about me? [Smiles] I bet there's nothing about me!

Posie : [Glances down at the paper for a moment, before looking Alice straight in the eye] Baby eater.

Alice : Oh for God's sake!

Posie : Apparently it's why you're so fat.

Alice : Hey! Austin, sue them!

Harvey : [Outraged] By the saints, that damned writer needs a good and sound trashing, what! How can the people believe such rot!

Posie : The point is, they do believe it. [Steps onto the balcony, and the party move close so they can see over it, but not so close they get hit by any of the many missiles being thrown up at it] Now, I believe you have an appointment with an angry mob?

Clint: [Begins to unzip his pants] Hell, yeah, I do!! [Attempts to urinate on the angry mob]

Harvey : [Scratches at a sideburn] Now madam, this is a large and impressive palace, but surely your forefathers had another out rather than just the main entrance, you know, in case the place was stormed by an angry mob, such at this one?

Alice : [Covers her eyes] Eauh! It's just like a penis, only smaller!

[CLINT sprinkles the crowd, who simply become even more enraged.]

Posie : [Looks directly at Harvey] Yes they did. [Pause] Guards!

[A bunch of armed guards enter the room, clearly intent on forcing the party onto the balcony, as POSIE quickly runs to them.]

Clint: [Whips out his sword and faces the guards. To Posie] What's the problem, Toots??

Alice : [Gives a little gasp and gets a bit flushed] Clint! Oh my! [Fans herself with her hand for a moment, before realisation dawns] Oh, it's a sword.

Posie : No problem. Once you are all thrown from the balcony, the mob will once again love me, so then I can start treating them like crap again.

Chastity : One the crowd are all too aware of already, I suspect, and are resigned to it! [Looks over at the crowd] How could they not think I was a nun! I mean the other stories, well...

Alice : Yeah, I was always afraid that eating babies story would get out.

[The party are backed right up to the edge of the balcony, with an overwhelming number of guards in the room. The balcony is on the third floor, but the only soft landing available is a number of angry, urine soaked protestors.]

Harvey : Gah! Stuck between the proverbial rock and hard place, troop!

Smock: [To Posie] Were you always so mean and grumpy, or did someone rip out your heart?

Posie : Actually, I was always a bit of a bitch.

[The party are now backed up so far that they are standing on the railing.]

Alice : You know, it's a pity that the great Peter isn't here to help us - what with us saving him from that monster and all!

Posie : [Coldly] Peter has gone to see his sick mother.

[There is a sudden commotion in the crowd below, caused by a carriage driving through the middle of it, towing a large trailer full of bales of hay. This is the same carriage the party arrived in that was driven by SCMICHAEL.]

Alice : [Peers over the edge, before turning to the others] Jump?

Smock: [To Posie, accusingly] Yeah, what did you do with Peter? He's our friend, he wouldn't want you to throw us to the mob! Peter!

Chastity : Really, Alice, I don't think this is quite the time for one of your in-appropriate sexual advances. I suggest we leap onto the carriage. [Leaps of off the balcony into the hay bales on carriage]

[Book V, Act III, Scene I. The Trailer. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, CLINT, HARVEY, MONTY and SMOCK are here, being thrown about the trailer which is being driven at high speed through the town. Many of the townspeople give chase, throwing bits of rotten fruit at it, but are soon left behind.]

Clint : [Eating a partially rotten tomato as the carriage passes out through the gates] Mm-mm! That is a tasty missile!

Alice : [Clinging to the side of the carriage to prevent herself from being thrown out] Who knew that being bounced around on a pile of hay could be so little fun!

Alice : Let's try and jump on Chastity!

[Everyone leaps off the balcony, under a hail of missiles from the crowd.]

Smock: [Having a rollicking good time aboard the trailer] Woo-hoo! This is just like the getaways of heroes in stories, but without any witty one-liners to depart with. [Yells to the front of the carriage] Mr driver-man, sir. Where are we going?

[The party can see that the driver is, indeed, SCHMICHAEL, and that PINK CASSIDY is in the carriage with him. SCHMICHAEL slowly looks behind him, directly at SMOCK, before slowly looking forwards again, but never slowing his breakneck speed as he does so.]

Pink : [Shouting to be heard over the roar of the horses] Taking you to a secret location!

Smock: Ugh. [To party] Do you know that guy? Why is he covered in bandages? [Yelling to Pink] Cool!

Pink : Right! [Says something that the party can't quite hear because of the noise, but finishes with a smile and a thumbs up, before turning back]

Alice : Yes, that's Schmichael Umacher, the greatest carriage driver in the whole realms. He uh, well, I guess he was in a carriage crash, a big fiery wreck that killed everyone except him.

Clint : [Lighting up a cigar] Yeah, we better be careful!

Alice : Is there any reason we have to be back here? Why don't we get in the carriage? That way Schmichael can tell us what's going on.

Smock: Well, I s'pose you gotta be pretty good to make a carriage catch fire and be the only one who escapes. [Glances warily at the hay they are sitting in] You do know that we're sitting on some highly flammable material right now...

Chastity : What? Climb over and into a moving carriage? You've been listening to too many of this youngsters heroic tales. Best let the carriage get away and stop before attempting anything so reckless.

Alice : Come on! It'll be a cinch! [Stands up, but immediately falls to the floor from the movement] Ow.

Smock: You can't just stand up, you gotta try being all daring and stealthy, like there's a bad guy in the front seat who you gotta sneak up on. [Attempts to climb toward the front of the carriage]

[SMOCK easily gets over the front of the trailer, but SCHMICHAEL suddenly jams on the brakes, sending her flying into the back window of the carriage with a sickening squelch.]

Harvey : [Gets up and dusts himself off] Ah! All things come to those who wait.

[SCHMICHAEL and PINK get out of the carriage.]

Pink : Wow! Are you guys in a lot of trouble!

Alice : We think so.

Clint: [Offers Smock a hand. To Pink, puffing on his cigar furiously] Why?! What'd we do??

Smock: [Tumbles out of the carriage after Pink. Takes Clint's hand and gets to her feet, looking a little dazed.] Is someone else cranky at us?

Chastity : [Getting Out of the carriage] Yes. Even if these stories were true, [quickly and defensively] which obviously they are not [back to normal] why would the towns people react with such hostility?

Pink : Because [emphasis] every newspaper and tv station in the place is full of stories of the awful things you've done. Between you, you've managed to offend just about everyone in the realms - for once, everyone is united.

Smock: Everyone except you?

Chastity : [in a slightly depressed tone] Oh, well at least some good has come from all this!

Clint: [Gives Chastity a sympathetic arm punch] Don't let it get to ya, Sist. This whole thing is bound to blow over soon, and the papers will be full of some other crap. You know how it is. One week, some crazy broad on the rag kills her husband, the next week some dizzy dame crashes her carriage into the police station 'cause she wants some poor guy to notice her. [Puff philosophically on his cigar]

Pink : Wow! For someone who's just been burnt in effigy, you're pretty cool about all this. [To Smock] Nah, I wasn't offended, but I haven't read any papers or seen any news since being Schmichaeled.

Clint: [Serenely, to Pink] Yeah, that's just kinda how I am. [Has a sudden thought, looks down, zips up his pants]

Pink : [Face drops] What? [Turns and slaps Schmichael across the face] You told me I was the first!

Chastity : [Looking between Schmichael and Pink] Well, ignorance aside, thank you for coming to our rescue back at the palace. Especially considering what Mr. Scar was beckoning with. I'm almost surprised you didn't just turn and go!

Pink : Well, when Peter calls, you have to answer!

Monty : Ahem. I would also like to thank you for the assistance in departing, and recommend that, when you do have chance to regard this news source, to please be aware that any tales regarding us have been presented by a thoroughly disreputable source. I am quite certain that all of the tales told within are false. [Has a thought, pulls out his notebook, flips to a page, and glances surreptitiously at the other party members.] Ahem. Well, nearly all, anyway.

Pink : [To Schmichael] Honey? Can I see the map?

[SCHMICHAEL folds out a large piece of paper that, if it is a map, has virtually nothing marked on it. Written on the top is "Nowhere".]

Pink : I think we're somewhere near the middle.

Smock: [Unimpressed] Great. Do we at least have a secret, underground base or something?

Pink : No need, Sock, we're going to drop you off at a quiet town where you'll be able to lie low.

Smock: [Frowns] My name is Smock, not Sock.

Pink : Are you sure? Peter seemed to think it was Sock. Anyway, why don't you all sit into the carriage and Schmikey can take you to Metaplasia.

Clint: [To Pink, helpfully] This is a sock. [Slip off a boot and raises and wiggles a foot to show off his tattered, moldy sock]

Austin : No, Mister Scar, that [emphasis] was a sock.

[Everyone gets back into the carriage, and SCMICHEAL sets off. The journey to Metaplasia takes a good few hours, and it is about nine at night when the carriage finally stops, at the foot of a mountain. A short distance from the road are the lights from a small town, set back into the mountain.]

Pink : Here we go!

Clint: [Hops out of the carriage and looks at the town distastefully] Something tells me there's not one damn strip joint in this town.

Harvey : [Claps Clint on the shoulder] Then there might be some hope for you yet, Private!

[The carriage tears off into the distance, taking PINK and SCHMICHAEL away, as the party head towards the town, which looks like it tiny. It is quite misty, so it is difficult to make out how many lights there are.]

Alice : [To the party] I've read about small towns - the people in them aren't like us, so be careful. No loud noises or outward shows of our culture and sophistication.

Smock: [To Clint] Yeah, so keep your mouth shut and we won't have to worry about nothing.

Alice : [Nods vehemently in agreement] Too right! We don't want you showing us up in front of the yokels. [Stops walking a second, before reaching down the back of her skirt and adjusting a stocking strap] Ah, that's better. Looks like we're almost here - wow, it is small! [This is true, and it looks like there is just a handful of houses here]

Clint: [Looks at Alice blankly] Culture and sophistication?

Alice : Just follow my lead and you'll be fine.

Austin : You mean [emphasis on the d] fined. In any sane place, that is.

[As the party approach the town, there is a sudden blinding crack of lightning, which seems to crack off the ground in the middle of the group, sending everyone to the ground. A few seconds later, everyone sits up, dazed, but unhurt. However, there is no sign of AUSTIN. From up ahead comes what sounds like a dog barking.]

Alice : [Rubbing her head] Ow. What just happened?

Smock: Looks like the hells finally came to claim Austin.

Harvey : Again.

[The barking continues.]

Alice : Is it just me, or does that dog sound kind of French?

[Everyone listens carefully, and, surprisingly, agrees with this. The party move closer to the down, and soon realise that it is not a dog, but a man, LEON FACHE, doing the barking. From the edge of town, it is possible to see all of the buildings, just eight.]

Leon : [Walking towards the party] Bark! Bark! Le bark!

Clint: [Growls at Smock] Shut up, girl! You haven't earned that right yet! [Scans the area for some sign of Austin]

Smock: [Frowns at Clint] What right? [Picks up a stick, waving it at Leon] Here boy! [Like she's speaking to a cute little puppy] What's your name?

Leon : Bark! Hey! I'm talking to you! Bark!

[There is no sign of AUSTIN, and he clearly didn't go back the way the party came. The village is surrounded on three sides by rock, so the only way he could have gone was passed LEON. However, the party were only dazed for a few seconds, so it seems unlikely that he could have gone as far as one of the houses.]

Lat from me and Ellen #40

Alice : The right to talk as if you don't care about something that happened to Austin. Only those who love him can do that. [Squeezes Clint's arm] Isn't that right, Stinky?

Leon : My name is Leon Fache, and I demand to know who you are. [Looks at the stick] That is an impressive stick, but there are hundreds of them, growing from trees.

Smock: Yes, yes there are. [Drops the stick] I'm Smock. And these guys are heroes who are gonna save the world! Alice, Clint, Harvey, Chastity and Monty.

Leon : Save the world, eh? From what?

Clint: [Shrugs] You know, the usual. So, what's with the dog routine, freak?

Leon : What's with the abject lack of cleanliness, freak?

Alice : [Steps in to calm matters, and addresses Leon] Excuse me, my rustic friend. We are from the big city, and would like to see your delightful village. I can assure you that our intentions are above board, and that there [quick glare at Clint] is no need to end every sentence with an insult. [A little patronisingly] Now, can we try that again?

Leon : I suppose we can, [pause] bitch.

Smock: [To Leon] Can you please show us around?

Leon : I am afraid not. Tonight is my night to be guard dog. Also, I have a fine bottle of cognac that I wish to drink. You might try asking Roberta, she's a kind of simpering know-it-all who would probably enjoy it.

Clint: [Eyes light up] Cognac, eh? Mind if I take a swig? [Digs into his pockets and fishes out a gnawed-on bone, which he waves temptingly] I'll let ya have this!

Leon : [Eyes the bone distastefully] Pf!

Clint: [Snorts] Some dog! All right, then, where's this Roberta broad?

Monty : [Slightly distastefully.] And is she taking turns being anything tonight, or is all more or less normal in her case?

Leon : [Gives a shrug before taking a swig of some expensive looking brandy] Idunno.

[There are some people milling about, and one of them looks over as CLINT says the name. This is ROBERTA CREEP, who has a nauseatingly serene smile on her face, and large (jewelry!) heart hanging on a chain around her neck. She approaches the party.]

Roberta : [With a sweep of her hand] Hail and well met, strangers who will soon no longer be strangers, for I know we will be friends. Do not be put off by Leon, he has the manners of a pig, but the heart of a lion, the soul of a poet and the mind of a philosopher.

Alice : You mean he's an alcoholic?

Leon : Pf! As normal as her sort get.

Roberta : [Gives Monty a smile] Sir, you seem disturbed. Your brow is furrowed, yet your face is fertile as the most tenderly cared for land.

Clint: [Studies Monty's face. To Roberta] Huh?! What the hell are you talking about?

Roberta : [Smiles warmly at Clint] Ah! The soul of a warrior, with arms and legs like voluminous pillars, holding aloft a dramatic depiction of man's struggle with existence as though it were a painting on the ceiling of one of Phili's most awesome churches.

[There is silence for a moment, as various party members exchange glances.]

Alice : Hey! [Pronounces the "rt" harder than normal] You've got a heart on.

Clint: [To Pink, helpfully] This is a sock. [Slip off a boot and raises and wiggles a foot to show off his tattered, moldy sock]

Austin : No, Mister Scar, that [emphasis] was a sock.

[Everyone gets back into the carriage, and SCMICHEAL sets off. The journey to Metaplasia takes a good few hours, and it is about nine at night when the carriage finally stops, at the foot of a mountain. A short distance from the road are the lights from a small town, set back into the mountain.]

Pink : Here we go!

Clint: [Hops out of the carriage and looks at the town distastefully] Something tells me there's not one damn strip joint in this town.

Harvey : [Claps Clint on the shoulder] Then there might be some hope for you yet, Private!

[The carriage tears off into the distance, taking PINK and SCHMICHAEL away, as the party head towards the town, which looks like it tiny. It is quite misty, so it is difficult to make out how many lights there are.]

Alice : [To the party] I've read about small towns - the people in them aren't like us, so be careful. No loud noises or outward shows of our culture and sophistication.

Smock: [To Clint] Yeah, so keep your mouth shut and we won't have to worry about nothing.

Alice : [Nods vehemently in agreement] Too right! We don't want you showing us up in front of the yokels. [Stops walking a second, before reaching down the back of her skirt and adjusting a stocking strap] Ah, that's better. Looks like we're almost here - wow, it is small! [This is true, and it looks like there is just a handful of houses here]

Clint: [Looks at Alice blankly] Culture and sophistication?

Alice : Just follow my lead and you'll be fine.

Austin : You mean [emphasis on the d] fined. In any sane place, that is.

[As the party approach the town, there is a sudden blinding crack of lightning, which seems to crack off the ground in the middle of the group, sending everyone to the ground. A few seconds later, everyone sits up, dazed, but unhurt. However, there is no sign of AUSTIN. From up ahead comes what sounds like a dog barking.]

Alice : [Rubbing her head] Ow. What just happened?

Smock: Looks like the hells finally came to claim Austin.

Harvey : Again.

[The barking continues.]

Alice : Is it just me, or does that dog sound kind of French?

[Everyone listens carefully, and, surprisingly, agrees with this. The party move closer to the down, and soon realise that it is not a dog, but a man, LEON FACHE, doing the barking. From the edge of town, it is possible to see all of the buildings, just eight.]

Leon : [Walking towards the party] Bark! Bark! Le bark!

Clint: [Growls at Smock] Shut up, girl! You haven't earned that right yet! [Scans the area for some sign of Austin]

Smock: [Frowns at Clint] What right? [Picks up a stick, waving it at Leon] Here boy! [Like she's speaking to a cute little puppy] What's your name?

Leon : Bark! Hey! I'm talking to you! Bark!

[There is no sign of AUSTIN, and he clearly didn't go back the way the party came. The village is surrounded on three sides by rock, so the only way he could have gone was passed LEON. However, the party were only dazed for a few seconds, so it seems unlikely that he could have gone as far as one of the houses.]

Lat from me and Ellen #40

Alice : The right to talk as if you don't care about something that happened to Austin. Only those who love him can do that. [Squeezes Clint's arm] Isn't that right, Stinky?

Leon : My name is Leon Fache, and I demand to know who you are. [Looks at the stick] That is an impressive stick, but there are hundreds of them, growing from trees.

Smock: Yes, yes there are. [Drops the stick] I'm Smock. And these guys are heroes who are gonna save the world! Alice, Clint, Harvey, Chastity and Monty.

Leon : Save the world, eh? From what?

Clint: [Shrugs] You know, the usual. So, what's with the dog routine, freak?

Leon : What's with the abject lack of cleanliness, freak?

Alice : [Steps in to calm matters, and addresses Leon] Excuse me, my rustic friend. We are from the big city, and would like to see your delightful village. I can assure you that our intentions are above board, and that there [quick glare at Clint] is no need to end every sentence with an insult. [A little patronisingly] Now, can we try that again?

Leon : I suppose we can, [pause] bitch.

Smock: [To Leon] Can you please show us around?

Leon : I am afraid not. Tonight is my night to be guard dog. Also, I have a fine bottle of cognac that I wish to drink. You might try asking Roberta, she's a kind of simpering know-it-all who would probably enjoy it.

Clint: [Eyes light up] Cognac, eh? Mind if I take a swig? [Digs into his pockets and fishes out a gnawed-on bone, which he waves temptingly] I'll let ya have this!

Leon : [Eyes the bone distastefully] Pf!

Clint: [Snorts] Some dog! All right, then, where's this Roberta broad?

Monty : [Slightly distastefully.] And is she taking turns being anything tonight, or is all more or less normal in her case?

Leon : [Gives a shrug before taking a swig of some expensive looking brandy] Idunno.

[There are some people milling about, and one of them looks over as CLINT says the name. This is ROBERTA CREEP, who has a nauseatingly serene smile on her face, and large (jewelry!) heart hanging on a chain around her neck. She approaches the party.]

Roberta : [With a sweep of her hand] Hail and well met, strangers who will soon no longer be strangers, for I know we will be friends. Do not be put off by Leon, he has the manners of a pig, but the heart of a lion, the soul of a poet and the mind of a philosopher.

Alice : You mean he's an alcoholic?

Leon : Pf! As normal as her sort get.

Roberta : [Gives Monty a smile] Sir, you seem disturbed. Your brow is furrowed, yet your face is fertile as the most tenderly cared for land.

Clint: [Studies Monty's face. To Roberta] Huh?! What the hell are you talking about?

Roberta : [Smiles warmly at Clint] Ah! The soul of a warrior, with arms and legs like voluminous pillars, holding aloft a dramatic depiction of man's struggle with existence as though it were a painting on the ceiling of one of Phili's most awesome churches.

[There is silence for a moment, as various party members exchange glances.]

Alice : Hey! [Pronounces the "rt" harder than normal] You've got a heart on.

Clint: [To Pink, helpfully] This is a sock. [Slip off a boot and raises and wiggles a foot to show off his tattered, moldy sock]

Austin : No, Mister Scar, that [emphasis] was a sock.

[Everyone gets back into the carriage, and SCMICHEAL sets off. The journey to Metaplasia takes a good few hours, and it is about nine at night when the carriage finally stops, at the foot of a mountain. A short distance from the road are the lights from a small town, set back into the mountain.]

Pink : Here we go!

Clint: [Hops out of the carriage and looks at the town distastefully] Something tells me there's not one damn strip joint in this town.

Harvey : [Claps Clint on the shoulder] Then there might be some hope for you yet, Private!

[The carriage tears off into the distance, taking PINK and SCHMICHAEL away, as the party head towards the town, which looks like it tiny. It is quite misty, so it is difficult to make out how many lights there are.]

Alice : [To the party] I've read about small towns - the people in them aren't like us, so be careful. No loud noises or outward shows of our culture and sophistication.

Smock: [To Clint] Yeah, so keep your mouth shut and we won't have to worry about nothing.

Alice : [Nods vehemently in agreement] Too right! We don't want you showing us up in front of the yokels. [Stops walking a second, before reaching down the back of her skirt and adjusting a stocking strap] Ah, that's better. Looks like we're almost here - wow, it is small! [This is true, and it looks like there is just a handful of houses here]

Clint: [Looks at Alice blankly] Culture and sophistication?

Alice : Just follow my lead and you'll be fine.

Austin : You mean [emphasis on the d] fined. In any sane place, that is.

[As the party approach the town, there is a sudden blinding crack of lightning, which seems to crack off the ground in the middle of the group, sending everyone to the ground. A few seconds later, everyone sits up, dazed, but unhurt. However, there is no sign of AUSTIN. From up ahead comes what sounds like a dog barking.]

Alice : [Rubbing her head] Ow. What just happened?

Smock: Looks like the hells finally came to claim Austin.

Harvey : Again.

[The barking continues.]

Alice : Is it just me, or does that dog sound kind of French?

[Everyone listens carefully, and, surprisingly, agrees with this. The party move closer to the down, and soon realise that it is not a dog, but a man, LEON FACHE, doing the barking. From the edge of town, it is possible to see all of the buildings, just eight.]

Leon : [Walking towards the party] Bark! Bark! Le bark!

Clint: [Growls at Smock] Shut up, girl! You haven't earned that right yet! [Scans the area for some sign of Austin]

Smock: [Frowns at Clint] What right? [Picks up a stick, waving it at Leon] Here boy! [Like she's speaking to a cute little puppy] What's your name?

Leon : Bark! Hey! I'm talking to you! Bark!

[There is no sign of AUSTIN, and he clearly didn't go back the way the party came. The village is surrounded on three sides by rock, so the only way he could have gone was passed LEON. However, the party were only dazed for a few seconds, so it seems unlikely that he could have gone as far as one of the houses.]

Lat from me and Ellen #40

Alice : The right to talk as if you don't care about something that happened to Austin. Only those who love him can do that. [Squeezes Clint's arm] Isn't that right, Stinky?

Leon : My name is Leon Fache, and I demand to know who you are. [Looks at the stick] That is an impressive stick, but there are hundreds of them, growing from trees.

Smock: Yes, yes there are. [Drops the stick] I'm Smock. And these guys are heroes who are gonna save the world! Alice, Clint, Harvey, Chastity and Monty.

Leon : Save the world, eh? From what?

Clint: [Shrugs] You know, the usual. So, what's with the dog routine, freak?

Leon : What's with the abject lack of cleanliness, freak?

Alice : [Steps in to calm matters, and addresses Leon] Excuse me, my rustic friend. We are from the big city, and would like to see your delightful village. I can assure you that our intentions are above board, and that there [quick glare at Clint] is no need to end every sentence with an insult. [A little patronisingly] Now, can we try that again?

Leon : I suppose we can, [pause] bitch.

Smock: [To Leon] Can you please show us around?

Leon : I am afraid not. Tonight is my night to be guard dog. Also, I have a fine bottle of cognac that I wish to drink. You might try asking Roberta, she's a kind of simpering know-it-all who would probably enjoy it.

Clint: [Eyes light up] Cognac, eh? Mind if I take a swig? [Digs into his pockets and fishes out a gnawed-on bone, which he waves temptingly] I'll let ya have this!

Leon : [Eyes the bone distastefully] Pf!

Clint: [Snorts] Some dog! All right, then, where's this Roberta broad?

Monty : [Slightly distastefully.] And is she taking turns being anything tonight, or is all more or less normal in her case?

Leon : [Gives a shrug before taking a swig of some expensive looking brandy] Idunno.

[There are some people milling about, and one of them looks over as CLINT says the name. This is ROBERTA CREEP, who has a nauseatingly serene smile on her face, and large (jewelry!) heart hanging on a chain around her neck. She approaches the party.]

Roberta : [With a sweep of her hand] Hail and well met, strangers who will soon no longer be strangers, for I know we will be friends. Do not be put off by Leon, he has the manners of a pig, but the heart of a lion, the soul of a poet and the mind of a philosopher.

Alice : You mean he's an alcoholic?

Leon : Pf! As normal as her sort get.

Roberta : [Gives Monty a smile] Sir, you seem disturbed. Your brow is furrowed, yet your face is fertile as the most tenderly cared for land.

Clint: [Studies Monty's face. To Roberta] Huh?! What the hell are you talking about?

Roberta : [Smiles warmly at Clint] Ah! The soul of a warrior, with arms and legs like voluminous pillars, holding aloft a dramatic depiction of man's struggle with existence as though it were a painting on the ceiling of one of Phili's most awesome churches.

[There is silence for a moment, as various party members exchange glances.]

Alice : Hey! [Pronounces the "rt" harder than normal] You've got a heart on.

Chastity : [To Roberta] I'll think you not to compare Phili's great houses of worship to [looks at Clint distastefully] him. In earlier times it would have been considered blasphemous.

Chastity : [to Alice] well she seems much more astute than Louise! [Pauses and glances at Clint] Second time around. [to Roberta] You haven't seen a thin, arrogant, foppish man arrive here in the last few minutes have you?

Roberta : Oh, I meant no offence, and certainly not to one such as you, in who's heart the love of Phili burns so brightly, warm like the sun, and drawing the less well blessed to you.

Alice : [Rolls her eyes as she speaks to the others] Is she for real?

Leon : [Picking up a very large fish that he tucks under his arm] Pf! She's only just getting started.

Roberta : Oh no, we haven't seen anyone like that here.

Leon : [Gives a huge exasperated sigh of frustration] We have plenty like that! Including her brother, who's just like her, except more simpering.

Clint: This one would also be really prissy [illustrates some Austin-like flicking of lint and shining of shoes with maximum prissiness]. Also, he mighta sued someone by now. Ring any bells?

Roberta : [Wrinkles up her nose] Oh no. No. I don't think we have anyone like that in this town. Oh dearie me, no.

Leon : What about your brother?

Clint: [Shoots Leon a dirty look. To the party] All right, this broad doesn't know squat. Let's get moving.

Leon : [Theatrically throws his arms up in the air, but still manages to keep hold of the fish] Idiot! I am trying to help you! Ask her to take you to her brother! [Turns and storms off] What the hell is wrong with these people? You try to offer them help and they just [tails off as he disappears into the gloom at the other side of the town]

Clint: [Ignores Leon. Has a sudden thought. To Roberta] Hey, can we meet your brother? If he's a prissy little freak, maybe he knows the lawyer. [Nods sagely. To Alice, tapping his forehead] Good thinking, eh? See, I'm not just about good looks and muscle.

Alice : It's just as well, isn't it?

Roberta : Oh, [gushing] of course you can! You'll just love him, everyone does. He has beautiful golden hair, as though each individual strand was painted by the angels themselves, skin like fine porcelain, yet still with a rugged appearance that suggest dragon slaying and princess saving.

Alice : [To the party] I already dislike him!

Roberta : Let's get Rick to light the way.

[There are a few people walking by, not paying a whole lot of attention to the party. ROBERTA calls out to one, RICK O'SHEA, who is wearing a hat with a huge (lit) candle on it. He walks over to the party, giving a little stagger, as though he's intoxicated.]

Rick : [Initially with a fairly benign smile, which disappears when he gets to the party] Am I supposed to know you?

Monty : [Helpfully.] No, sir. You're supposed to be meeting us for the first time and making an impression as wonderful as ma'am here [Indicates Roberta.] has said you would.

Rick : [Relieved] Phew! Because I hadn't a clue who you were.

Monty : [Genially.] That's quite all right, sir.

Chastity : [To Rick] We were hoping you could light the way to this lady's [gestures to Roberta]brother.

Rick : Sure! I'd be happy to. [Looks Roberta up and down] Do I know you?

Roberta : Of course, Rick! Ours is a friendship that transcends time and space, a mutual understanding of two souls that -

Rick : [Interrupting] Oh yeah, I remember you. Walk this way, please. [Staggers off towards house C]

Harvey : [Frowning at Rick's stagger. To Clint] Ther'll be no drinking on duty in my troop, Private Scar! It confuses a private's senses.

Alice : [Following Rick, adopting a similar stagger] Too right, Uncle Harvey, it's hard enough to walk like this sober, so imagine how difficult it would be if you were drunk!

[RICK staggers along, and is expertly avoided by the few people out walking on the street, but he collides with TIFFANY GOLIGHTLY, a beautiful woman dressed as a ballerina, who is doing some sort of stretching exercise with one leg pulled up around the back of her head. TIFFANY is knocked to the ground, while RICK barely breaks stride.]

Tiffany : Ow! Watch where you're going, you oaf!

Rick : [Stops and looks down at Tiffany] Do I know you?

Harvey : [To Rick] I say there fellow! It's a sorry day when a man is so drunk that he can knock a woman down without noticing! [Helps Tiffany get up]

Tiffany : [Somehow making a graceful movement out of being pulled to her feet] Thank you, kind sir. However, please do not ask me for an autograph, for a refusal often offends, and I have no wish to offend anyone. [To the party in general] Please! Please step back! I cannot think properly when surrounded by so many non-artistic people.

Chastity : [To Alice] Oh no. I hope this isn't a town where all the women are impractically artistic. Who will be homemaking. It's not something men are capable of!

Alice : [Rolls her eyes] I'm sure you can instruct them, Chas.

Tiffany : [Does another huge stretch, before glancing at the party] Yes? Yes? Haven't you ever seen the greatest ballerina in the world before? Well, I suppose not, but that's no excuse for your staring!

Harvey : [Nodding in aggreement with Chastity] Quite right Sister Chastity, what would the world come to with no homemaking! A soilder cannot march on an empty stomach! [Stomach rumbles] My I'm famished, [To Tiffany] Is there a inn that serves good food around here someplace?

Tiffany : [Gives Harvey a withering look] How on [with disgust] earth would I know? I'm a ballerina. I don't eat.

Smock : I thought we were going to [points at Roberta] her house to meet the fop, er, I mean, her brother.

Clint: [Impatiently] Well, let's get on with it, then! The sooner we see this guy, the sooner we can get some booze and some grub [unhappily drains his nearly empty flask].

Harvey : [To Tiffany, wincing as she bends] Well I've never heard of Balernia before, but it must be a terrible place if nobody eats, what! No wonder you emigrated, get some vitamins in you girl, it'll cure your rickets in no time! [To Smock] Quite right Cadete Smock, we can probably procure some food supplies at the house.

Tiffany : [Barely audible] Eek. [Waves her hand in front of her nose]

Roberta : Come on, we're almost there. [Follows Rick, who's staggering towards house C] Isn't Tiffany just wonderful? She has all the grace and elegance of a swan in flight, and the gentle beauty of a delicate figurine.

[The group reaches house C. Before ROBERTA can open the door, however, it swings open, and a man in a hooded black cloak leaps out, causing ROBERTA to give a scream. This is almost instantaneously followed by a blinding flash of light from inside the house.]

Alice : What the hell!

Rick : [Completely unperturbed by the figure in the cloak] Do I know you?

Clint: [Pulls out a sword and bellows] Hey! Back off!

[The figure steps back, and dramatically throws off his cloak. This is DAWSON CREEP, who is dressed in colourful and expensive clothing, has exquisitely styled hair and such an overall air of jauntiness and cockiness about him that everyone is tempted to punch him in the face.]

Dawson : [To Clint] I say, Herbert, put down the sword before you hurt yourself with it.

Roberta : [Throws herself in front of the sword, and starts pleading with Clint] No! Please, don't hurt him, take me instead! The world needs his beauty!

Harvey : [To Roberta] There, there, my dear, calm yourself down, what! We will not attack unless attacked!

Clint: [Puts his sword away. To Dawson] Herbert? What the hell are you talking about?!

Dawson : A pox upon you sir, and your violent ways. You are interfering with the making of art! [Dramatically swirls his cloak around him and turns to head into the house.] [As DAWSON turns, enter JOHN TOULOUSE, weighed down by cameras and painting utensils. He gasps upon seeing the party, with an expression on his face that's a peculiar mix of horror and desire.]

John : [With his nostrils flaring and manic grin] Lovely! Just lovely! [Takes a photo of Harvey and Clint]

Harvey : [Going red in the face] By the saints, sir, what is the meaning of this! Another damned reporter no doubt, here to spread muck about our good characters!

Harvey : Well, he shall have a face the colour of a leaf in autumn to match his oaken eyes if he doesn't stop taking photographs of this troop, what! It's an outrage! Whatever happened to privacy?

John : [Takes another snap] Yes! Yes!

Roberta : [A little uneasy about the tension] Uh, maybe we should go in?

Harvey : [Glares at John before turning to Roberta] Indeed, my dear, let us enter and with some luck, feast!

Smock: Yeah, let's get some food and see what mister fancy pants is up to. [Pushes past Harvey and Roberta, into the house]

Harvey : [To Smock] That's the spirit lad! [To Roberta] An eager one that cadet, we'll make a fine soilder, and a man, out of him!

Alice : [Also getting pushed out of the way] Hey! He said feast, not fast!

Roberta : [Looking in after Smock before turning to Harvey] Uh, really? [Thinks for a moment]

[Exit ALL except RICK into the house, closing the door behind them.]

Rick : [Sigh] I said "Do I know you?"

[Time passes.]

Rick : Hey! Where's everyone gone? [Slowly walks off nonchalantly]

[Book V, Act III, Scene II. House C. ALICE, CHASTITY, CLINT, HARVEY, MONTY and SMOCK are here, as are JOHN, DAWSON and ROBERTA. The house is surprisingly luxurious, and is crammed full with all sorts of cute ornaments, such as ceramic kittens with one paw bandaged up, as well as an enormous number of paintings and pictures, and there are shelves and shelves of books.]

Alice : [Looking around] Wow! What a lot of books. You must be really clever.

John : [Gives a smile that's almost, but not quite, a leer] Oh yes, my dear, terribly. Say, how would you like some portraits done?

Dawson : [Theatrically] Be seated! Be seated and explain your presense at our home tonight!

Harvey : [To Dawson, stomach rumbling] I say chappie, you don't happen to have any light snacks available do you? This old soilder is quite famished!

Dawson : Snacks? Snacks? We have no time for snacks! We need information. Speak now fellow, before I become irked.

Clint: [Snaps at Dawson] Hey! Show the colonel some respect, punk! What information do you think we've got, anyway?!

Dawson : [Wipes his nose with an impossibly delicate lace hanky] I would have expected you to know your name and why you are here, but now [looks Clint up and down] I doubt it.

Smock : Hey! Where's all the food?

Chastity : Easy now, Smock, I'm sure that Roberta will soon be retiring to the kitchen.

[ROBERTA makes no move.]

Clint: [To Roberta, patting his stomach pointedly] Come on, toots, shake a leg! [To Dawson] I'm Clint [gestures to each party member in turn], and that's Harvey, Chastity, Alice, Monty, and, uh, [pauses at Smock and then says] some orphan kid we're looking after or something. We're looking for someone--real prissy, swishy guy you'd SWEAR was a broad. [Snorts] Weird we got sent to you when we gave that description before, eh? [nudges Alice and laughs]

Smock : [Annoyed] My name is Smock.

Dawson : There are no such people in this town.

John : [Thinking hard] Maybe it could be Roseanne, David's wife? She doesn't look that much like a woman, though.

Clint: [To Robert, impatiently] You need some help rounding up that grub? [To Alice, Chastity and Smock] Why don't you gals go help out in the kitchen? [pats Alice on the head encouragingly]

Roberta : [Only slightly disturbed by a low growling sound from Alice] Oh, well, we don't really have much food here, and I'm simply a disaster in the kitchen. There may be sandwiches at tonight's lecture though, and Mrs. Grand is a simply astonishing cook.

Monty : [To Dawson and John] He would have been or will be a recent arrival, like ourselves, given to mentioning legal affairs with great frequency, as well as being almost exagerratedly fussy about his appearance and wearing the most fashionable garments known to the civilized world.

Harvey : [To Roberta] Hmmm, when does the lecture start? [To Monty] Private Sleaze is little more than a common criminal! And vainer than a fairy tale princess. [Mutters in disgust] Where the hell is he now [Looks around] Up to no good I don't doubt.

John : [To Monty] I fear there haven't been any new arrivals in Metaplasia for many months.

Dawson : If he truly gravitates to well dressed people, he would have come here. If he is but a fraud, then I suggest you speak with Fudgeworthy.

Roberta : [Looks up at a clock] Uh, at 10pm, about half an hour ago. [To the others] We really should get going.

Alice : What's the lecture about?

Roberta : Punctuality.

Alice : [To Dawson] Do you know where Fudgeworthy lives?

Dawson : Yes. [Smirks]

Monty : [To Harvey.] Well, there was that small matter of a betrayal being on the cards. I do hope that he hasn't become a duplicate of Dr. Trindle in that regard. [To Roberta, once she has answered Harvey's question.] May I inquire as to what subject the lecture shall be covering?

Harvey : [To the party] Well, lets get to this lecture before we all starve to death, we can't search for Private Sleaze on an empty stomach!

John : I'll take you - I need to get some photos of people sleeping.

[ROBERTA gives him a reproachful look.]

John : [With a guilty smile] Uh, more photos of people sleeping. [Heads out into the street with the party] So, we don't get many visitors here, what brings you folks along?

http://www.queens-view.com/Maps/Current/index.html

Monty : Ah, we felt in need of a vacation of sorts. The worries of the wide world around us can grow quite heavy, and this place was recommended as one where we might find peace for a time.

John : [Gives an understanding nod to Monty] Makes sense, Metaplasia is one of the most remote towns in Nowhere, and that's the most remote province in the Realms. [To Clint] Lightning? You mean, from my flash? [Takes a photo of Clint, blinding most of the party with the flash]

Clint: Here's a better question. What's with all of the weird lightning you people get here?

Harvey : [To Clint, loudly] Strange lighting? What? [Looks at the lights in the room. To Clint] What are you mumbling about now man! If you want to stay here with your new friends whilst we go and eat then just say so!

Clint: [Loudly, with exaggerated enunciation] Strange lightning. You know, like what hit right before the lawyer went missing?! [Grumbles] Clean out your ears, old man! [digs a finger into one of his own ears, examines the filthy finger thoughtfully, then discreetly wipes it on Smock]

Alice : [Glares angrily at Clint] Stop that! Leave her alone[Tries to wipe it off Smock, but her hand gets stuck] Ew!

Smock : Hey! What are you doing?

John : [Takes another photo of Clint] Well? Is that the strange lightning you're talking about?

Monty : Mr. Scar, if the lightning was Path-related, then they may know nothing of it.

Clint: [To John, sarcastically] I dunno, does it make lawyers disappear when you snap a picture?

John : [Gives Clint a wink] Oh no my friend, with the kind of pictures I take, they normally start to appear!

[The group get to Building H, which is some sort of town hall. There are some people coming out of it, including FAITH BROWN, who's reading a book while she walks, and SHELLEY O'SHEA, who's carrying a baby. SHELLEY is talking to FAITH, who doesn't really seem to be paying her any attention.]

Shelley : He's just so clever, Faith! He's going to be even more clever than you, I bet! Junior's just a few months old and already he can beat his Daddy at chess. [Spots the party] Ah! Visitors! [Gives a big wave and a smile in the direction of the party]

Harvey : [Waves to Shelley and Faith. To the party] I hope they didn't eat all of the sandwiches.

Shelley : [Coming over] Hi! Hello! I'm Shelley O'Shea, and this is Faith Brown. She's ever so clever. This here's Junior!

[SHELLEY holds JUNIOR out to the party.]

Shelley : Isn't he just the cutest thing? Fortunately he doesn't take after his father, and idiot so stupid that he can't walk in a straight line. [Looks behind the party and screams in a shrill voice at Rick] You idiot! You bastard! You missed the lecture! [Even louder and more shrill] God! Can you do anything right? [Back to the party with a perfectly charming demeanour] And brings you to our lovely town? [Glances at John] Want to take a picture of Junior? [Is still holding Junior facing the party]

John : [Shouting] No! [Calms down a bit and dusts himself off] I mean, no, I, uh, don't have any paint.

Monty : [To Clint.] Of course not. It would cause lawyers to sue for the use of their image without permission. [To John.] No, sir. The sort of lightning we're referring to is the type that strikes from the sky, not a camera.

Harvey : [Looks at Junior] By the saints, the child certainly seems not to be lacking in the testosterone department, my dear!

Shelley : Well, I don't know what that means, but I'm sure it's something good, thank you! Would you like to give him a kiss?

Harvey : [Steps as far away as possible] Why no my dear, thank you. [Looks around] So, we have missed the lecture, I take it. Have me missed the buffet?

Harvey : [Nods his head] Why dear niece, I've seen fewer finer looking boks, and that's not a word of a lie! [To Shelley] And who, my dear, is Godmother? Or perhaps even the...Goodmother! [Bursts out laughing, long, loud and alone]

Shelley : Let's ask Faith, she's terribly clever. Faith, have they missed the buffet?

Faith : [With an exasperated sigh as she puts her book down] For this I am interrupted? For this? I am reading the Book of Knowledge! [Holds up the book, holding it shut but keeping her page with her finger, showing that "The Big Bok of Knowledge" is written on the front in crayon] Yes, they have missed the buffet. However, logic dictates that they should talk to Godmother. [Starts reading again]

Alice : [To the others] Wow, that's an impressive looking Bok, isn't it?

Shelley : Why, that would be me, I hope! [Bursts into a shrill, high pitched laugh that goes on and on]

John : Godmother is Alf Grand's wife - she's the one who makes all the sandwiches and gives people tasty chocolatey treats when they skin their knees.

Clint: [Perks up] Where's this Godmother?

Shelley : She's probably still in the hall. [Gestures with Junior]

Smock: [Eyes lighting up] Chocolatety treats? Sweet! [Bounds off for the hall]

Shelley : [Looking after Smock with a smile] Aw! [To Alice] Is she your daughter?

Alice : [Taken aback] What? No!

[Just as SMOCK gets to the door, enter TWEEDLEBUSH, coming out, who she collides with, almost, but not quite, knocking him over.]

Tweedlebush : We must make a stand against the child threat, our way of life will soon be over run by screaming and naughty children unless we make a stand now! [Pounds his fist into his hand to emphasise his point]

[Enter TWEEDLETONY, with a big smile, and nodding vigorously.]

Tweedletony : Yes, yes, that's right. [Makes an okay sign with his right hand] I think you are a-ok, Tweedlebush.

Smock: Oh yeah? Bring it on! I reckon I could take ya. [Rolls up her sleeves]

Tweedlebush : Can someone control this child? This is unacceptable!

Tweedletony : Unacceptable!

Smock: [Rolls her shoulders, loosening up] C'mon mister big talk. [Thumbs her nose and adopts a boxer's pose, shifting her weight in readiness] Two against one. [Enter ALF GRAND, a stern looking man with a long beard.]

Alf : What is going on here?

Clint: [Sighs] Sorry about the kid. She needs a good spanking, but her mom [gestures to Alice] spoils her rotten.

Smock: [Still eyeing off Tweedlebush and Tweedletony. To Alf] These weirdos want to take me on.

Alf : [Looks Smock up and down before turning to Clint] Control the child, and control your wife.

Tweedletony : I'll take her on!

Smock: [Sneers at Tweedletony] Come and get it, chump. [To Clint, angelically] Can I give them just a few bruises, daddy?

Clint: [To Smock] Go to it, kid. Make your old man proud. [Gives Alice a bruising, smelly hug. To Alice] Now, make me grub, woman!

Alice : [Pushes Clint away] Get your grubby mitts off me, mister!

Tweedletony : [Adopts a classic rolling fists boxing stance] Bring it on.

Harvey : By the saints! Stop this behaviour at once, Cadet! [Grabs Smock by the scruff of the neck and pulls her back]

Chastity : Honestly, Colonel, I just don't know what they'd do without us.

Clint: [To Tweedletony] All right, bub, that's enough. Move outta the way.

Smock: Hey! I had him beat. [Glowers at Tweedletony, but stands obediently by Harvey, arms crossed]

Tweedletony : I certainly will not! I am one hundred percent opposed to moving, isn't that right, Tweedlebush?

Tweedlebush : Uh, well, let's wait and see what Alf has to say.

Alf : [Dramatically] Who are you people and what do you think you're doing stirring up trouble in our town?

Harvey : [To Alf] That's more like it, I knew some one had to be incharge around here [Fold his arms and looks expectantly at Tweedlebush and Tweedletony] Well? Answer the man!

Tweedlebush : Who the hell are you?

Tweedletony : Yeah! Who the hell [emphasis] are you?

Alf : Stop that! I'll handle this. [Turns to Harvey] Who the hell are you?

Harvey : [To Alf, sternly] I, sir, amd Colonel Harvey Kingston-Short, and this is my party, [proudly introduces] Alice, my niece, Sister Chastity, [Normally] Private Scar, Cadet Smock and Monty. [Gestures sternly to Tweedletony and Tweedlebush] These two young scally ways were bullying Cadet Smock, but I'm sure it was just some healthy laddish rivalry. [Turns back to Alf]

Alf : [To the Tweedles] Is this true?

Tweedlebush : No!

Tweedletony : No way!

Alf : [To Harvey] You sir, a liar. I will thank you to leave our town immediately, and take your young thug with you. I can't abide someone lying about my nephews, you can -

[ALF is interrupted by the arrival of GODMOTHER GRAND, a kindly looking old woman.]

Godmother : Oh, stop your nonsense and let them come in!

Harvey : [Frowns at Alf. Cheerfully to Godmother] Why thank you good lady, I would be most glad to enter your facility [Looks up at the building and nods approvingly] I am Colonel Harvey Kingston-Short, and this is my party, [proudly introduces] Alice, my niece, Sister Chastity, [Normally] Private Scar, Cadet Smock and Monty.

Godmother : Well, it's a pleasure to meet you all. I'm Godmother Grand, and this big crank is my husband Alf [leans in confidentially to the party] he's like that with anyone who doesn't immediately try to discuss fish with him. [Steps back to let the party into the hall, in which there are a few people standing around near a huge buffet]

Harvey : [Eyes light up as he sees the buffet] Why thank you dear woman, you are most hospitable, I must admit! It does this old soldiers heart good to see such common decency alive and well! [Begins moving towards the buffet] [There are two people standing right by the buffet, DAVID and ROSEANNE SPRATT, who smile and nod politely at the party.]

David : [Who's very, very tall] Hi there! You should try the shrimp, it's great!

Roseanne : [To David] I thought you weren't supposed to eat shrimp, dear. [Apparently addressing the whole room] He gets awful gas from even one shrimp. [Laughs] He'll be parping all night from this, possibly even tomorrow, too.

Smock: Ew. [Gives David a wide berth as she collects indiscriminate handfulls of food. To Godmother, whilst shoving some fruit in her mouth] Where's the chocolate?

Monty : Now, now. Dessert should be saved for last.

Smock: [To Monty, with a mouthful] Why?

Alice : Who said the chocolate was for dessert?

Roseanne : [Points out some chocolates] There's some there. You can't have any David, you know it plays havoc with your headaches. [To the party] Poor little lamb was up all night crying like a baby the last time he had a Curly Wurly.

Smock: Thanks. [Grins at Roseanne before heading straight for the sweets and collecting a rather large pile.] So do you guys always have lectures about boring things? [Shoves some chocolate in her pockets for later.]

Roseanne : Oh, all the time! Grand Alf gives one every Tuesday night. They're awful, but Godmother's cooking is just great - not for David, though, he's allergic to starch. As soon as it's down it's right up again, isn't that right, Davy?

David : Uh, well, I suppose.

Roseanne : [Laughs out loud] You suppose! [To Smock] He supposes! Last time, he sprayed the whole bathroom wall!

Smock: Gross! [To David] Can you actually eat anything without your body going spastic? [Fishes in her pocket and pulls out an extraordinarily large, wingless cockroach.] Or do you just come here for the speeches? [Pets the roach before putting it back in her pocket along with a piece of bread]

David : [Defiantly] I can spank naughty children!

[ROSEANNE glares at him for a moment.]

David : I mean, I'm - I'm sorry. Here's a GP. [Hands over a gp to Smock]

Alice : [Watching Smock put the cockroach bread into her pocket] Ew! [To the others] You all just saw that too, right?

Clint: [To Alice, looking at Smock disgustedly] I sure as hell did! [To Smock] What, gonna have a roach sandwich later or something?!

Godmother : [Goodnaturedly] Oh, leave the poor child alone! [To Clint] You look like a fine strapping fellow, how would you like a glass of beer?

[Enter Q SPRATT, a young boy of about nine.]

Q : [Beaming when he sees the party] Hey there! How are you? I can do cartwheels!

Q

Clint: [To Godmother] Hell, yeah! [Gives Godmother an arm-punch of thanks] You're my kinda broad!

Smock: [To Clint, indignant] I would never eat Twitch! [To Q] Prove it.

Harvey : [Already halfway through a roast chicken and a bowl of honey eyed locusts. To Godmother] Splendid! Excellent food, fit for a king!

Clint: [Looks at Smock in pity and shakes his head] Damn, they really messed you up in the orphanage, didn't they, kid? [To Godmother, impatiently] So, where's that beer?

Alf : [Stepping up to Clint] No beer for you! [To Godmother] Don't give him any.

Godmother : Oh, now, Alf, you and your rules. [To Harvey] Thank you kind sir. Now, what is it that brings you and your friends to Metaplasia? [Q suddenly does a number of cartwheels, finishing off with a few somersaults and landing with a flourish, to rapturous applause first from first ROSEANNE, and, after she gives DAVID a prod, him too.]

Roseanne : Isn't he great?

Clint: [To Alf, outraged, spitting chunks of snake's feet everywhere] What rules?!

Smock: [Begrudgingly, to Roseanne] Yeah, he's alright. [Wipes her mouth on her sleeve] Any of you seen a skinny man prancing about with his nose in the air? We lost him when we first got here.

Harvey : [Gulping down his mouthfull of food, eye buldging slightly. To Smock] Now now, Cadet Smock, it's Private Sleaze, not skinny, just remeber that he's saved all of our live ...[tails off] Ahh, curried badgers noses! [grabs a handful of badgers noses]

Smock: I didn't call him Skinny. I just said he [emphasis] was skinny.

Monty : Yes, well, it could be pointed out that Dr. Trindle was also involved in a certain degree of life-saving before his... ah... transformation. [To Q.] Very acrobatic, young man. Is gymnastics your intended career?

Clint: [To Alf] And one of your rules is to not let ME have beer?!

Q : [Sicks his tongue out at Monty] You've got a big nose and a stupid haircut.

Roseanne : [Cackles with laughter] Ah! The things kids today say!

Godmother : [To Clint] Alf is the mayor of the town, he makes up all the rules.

Roseanne : Skinny man, eh? None that I can think of.

Smock: Will the rules let me have beer?

Monty : [Politely to Q.] I see that you've taken after me, then. [To Clint.] Not an entirely unreasonable rule, given what damage you cause when inebriated... but as I understand how greatly you pine for such things, perhaps you might consider drinking scotch or whiskey instead?

Alf : [To Clint] It is now. [Looks Smock up and down] Hm. [Addressing the party in general] You have abused our hospitality and our patience long enough, Who are you and what do you want? And who is this person you claim to be searching for? We aren't used to this sort of behaviour, this is a quiet, dignified town, where people behave, and children never run amok.

[Q runs up to MONTY and gives him a hard kick in the shin.]

Q : Hahahaha! Boot! [Runs away]

Alice : [Nonchalantly sticks her foot out and trips Q] Oops.

Chastity : Indeed, young Smock, alcohol can do terrible things, especially to young ladies.

Q : [Sliding along the ground] Ow! That mean lady tripped me!

Clint: [To Smock] No! You're just a kid. They got laws about that crap, right? Besides, you don't have good sense as it is. I don't wanna know what you'd be like drunk! [Looks at Harvey and Chastity for back-up]

Smock: [Sulkily] I never get to do fun stuff. [Kicks Q while he's on the ground] That's for Monty, cuz he's too much of a wimp to do it himself.

Q : Ow! Help! [Bursts into tears]

Roseanne : [Storms across the room and grabs Smock by the hair] You little bitch! [Shakes her hard]

Clint: [Snarls at Roseanne] Let her go, she-devil! [attempts to free Smock without being particularly careful about potential hair-loss]

Harvey : [Alarmed. To Smock] Stop that now Cadet or you'll be docked a weeks leave! If Mr. Giles is soft that's his problem, appologise immidiatley! [CLINT grabs ROSEANNE, who maintains a surprisingly strong grip on SMOCK.]

Roseanne : Help! Help! [DAVID, TWEEDLEBUSH and TWEEDLETONY all wade in and grab CLINT.]

Alf : [To Godmother] See? I knew they were trouble from the start.

Harvey : By the saints! Let's all calm down here!

Monty : Indeed! Get a grip! Ahem. On yourselves rather than each other.

Clint: [Struggling with the Tweedle Twins] Let go of me, freaks!!

Alice : I'll help you Stinky! [Looks from Tweedle to Tweedle] Oh man! I want to punch each one so much!

Alf : Stop this! At the count of three, everyone let go. One, two, [with the whole room bristling with anticipation] three!

[Of course, no one lets go, and they just remain there, struggling. However, GODMOTHER steps up, and throws a bucket of ice cold water over them, sending each of the TWEEDLES, CLINT, ROSEANNE and SMOCK to the ground.]

Alf : [More than a little annoyed] Uh... three!

Clint: [Spits out a huge mouthful of water and staggers to his feet. To Godmother] Uh, thanks? [offers Smock a hand, scowling at the Tweedles and Roseanne]

Smock : [Pulls herself up using Clint's hand] Thanks Clint. [Sticks her tongue out at the others]

Alf : [Gravely to the party] I think you had better leave.

John : [Rapidly taking photographs] Whoo! Front page tomorrow!

Harvey : [To Godmother] I appologise for the unruly behaviour of my troop, they're a bit restlest at the moment. [To the party, crossly] Everyone out now, or I'll bally well throw you out myself!

Clint: [Bellows at Harvey] Don't bark orders at me, old man! [stomps out crankily]

Alice : [Sulkily] But I didn't get any chocolate!

Chastity : [Pokes Clint hard in the back as she walks out] Don't speak to the Colonel like that, Mister Scar! He's only trying to help the party maintain a shred of dignity!

Monty : [To Godmother.] I really must apologize for their behavior. They're far too wound up from events in the outside world, I'm afraid, and are having trouble coping. [Follows Clint and Chastity out.]

Godmother : Oh, that's okay, dear.

[Exit the party and JOHN.]

John : [Takes a photo of the party] Gosh! You guys are just great! Having you around is going to be wonderful! Where are you staying tonight?

Monty : Indeed! Get a grip! Ahem. On yourselves rather than each other.

Clint: [Struggling with the Tweedle Twins] Let go of me, freaks!!

Alice : I'll help you Stinky! [Looks from Tweedle to Tweedle] Oh man! I want to punch each one so much!

Alf : Stop this! At the count of three, everyone let go. One, two, [with the whole room bristling with anticipation] three!

[Of course, no one lets go, and they just remain there, struggling. However, GODMOTHER steps up, and throws a bucket of ice cold water over them, sending each of the TWEEDLES, CLINT, ROSEANNE and SMOCK to the ground.]

Alf : [More than a little annoyed] Uh... three!

Clint: [Spits out a huge mouthful of water and staggers to his feet. To Godmother] Uh, thanks? [offers Smock a hand, scowling at the Tweedles and Roseanne]

Smock : [Pulls herself up using Clint's hand] Thanks Clint. [Sticks her tongue out at the others]

Alf : [Gravely to the party] I think you had better leave.

John : [Rapidly taking photographs] Whoo! Front page tomorrow!

Harvey : [To Godmother] I appologise for the unruly behaviour of my troop, they're a bit restlest at the moment. [To the party, crossly] Everyone out now, or I'll bally well throw you out myself!

Clint: [Bellows at Harvey] Don't bark orders at me, old man! [stomps out crankily]

Alice : [Sulkily] But I didn't get any chocolate!

Chastity : [Pokes Clint hard in the back as she walks out] Don't speak to the Colonel like that, Mister Scar! He's only trying to help the party maintain a shred of dignity!

Monty : [To Godmother.] I really must apologize for their behavior. They're far too wound up from events in the outside world, I'm afraid, and are having trouble coping. [Follows Clint and Chastity out.]

Godmother : Oh, that's okay, dear.

[Exit the party and JOHN.]

John : [Takes a photo of the party] Gosh! You guys are just great! Having you around is going to be wonderful! Where are you staying tonight?

Smock: [Offers some of her chocolate cache to Alice. To John] Dunno yet. But I suppose it will be the stables or worse. game time)

John : Oh no! You can't stay in the stables!

Alice : How come? Not good enough? Too stinky?

John : Nah, we just don't have any.

Smock: What about a dog house? Or an outhouse? Or just a dogdy hotel?

John : No, no and no. It's a small town! The only place you could really stay would be the Town Hall, although I doubt Alf would be too happy about that. [Thinks for a moment] Now, if only there was someone who lived in the town who could put you up. Someone who lives here, and who knows the town and it's customs, who understands the people, yet is sympathetic to your situation.

Smock: If only... [Rubs her chin thoughtfully]

Smock: [Offers some of her chocolate cache to Alice. To John] Dunno yet. But I suppose it will be the stables or worse. game time)

John : Oh no! You can't stay in the stables!

Alice : How come? Not good enough? Too stinky?

John : Nah, we just don't have any.

Smock: What about a dog house? Or an outhouse? Or just a dogdy hotel?

John : No, no and no. It's a small town! The only place you could really stay would be the Town Hall, although I doubt Alf would be too happy about that. [Thinks for a moment] Now, if only there was someone who lived in the town who could put you up. Someone who lives here, and who knows the town and it's customs, who understands the people, yet is sympathetic to your situation.

Smock: If only... [Rubs her chin thoughtfully]

John : [Adopting a similar, chin rubbing thoughtful look] Think... think!

Harvey : [To John] Surely there must be at least one such wholesome person resident in this town?[Looks around]

Clint: [To John, exasperated] How about YOU, genius?

John : Ah! Good idea! Unfortunately, I don't think Dawson would be too happy about it, he's probably a bit sore at the way you spoke to him. Hm, let's see, is there anyone you didn't offend? [Points out each house] You've got Leon Fache [House A] Alf Grand [House B] Us [House C] The Tweedles [House D] The Spratts [House E] The O'Sheas [House F] and the Fudgeworthy place, [House H] that's where Faith and Tiffany live, with Reginald.

Metaplasia Map 2

Clint: [Thoughtfully] That broad, Faith, had a thing for me. She'd probably let us stay with her, if I give her what she wants. [elbows Alice and smirks]

Alice : [Rolls her eyes] Look, Clint, just because she didn't call the cops on you doesn't mean she has a thing for you - unless that thing is a can of mace!

Clint: [Smugly] But you gotta admit the fact that she didn't call the cops is a positive sign!

Alice : Sigh. Sure, Clint. Sure it was. [To John, pointing at House G] Who lives there?

John : That's Dominique Dominick's place. [Face lights up] I bet she'll let you stay there. [Gives Clint a wink and a growl] She's the kinda girl that you want to not set the cops on you!

Monty : Given how things have turned out during all of our other visits, might it not be better to camp out somewhere rather than inevitably find some way to inadvertently offend one of the few who have not yet been?

Harvey : [To Monty] On the contrary Mr Giles, better to exhaust all possiblities before asking the ladies to rough it, what! [To John] Will you introduce us to Ms Dominick please?

Chastity : [Nods at Harvey's words] Well said, Colonel!

John : Sure thing, Harv. Follow me, everyone, it's way over here. [The party make the thirty second walk to DOMINICK'S, approaching it from the side.]

Alice : [Pointing at a window, that has a bunch of porcelain figurines in it] Hey, look at them! They're pretty cool looking, aren't they?

Dominick's Window

John : Easy, tiger. I'll give a knock on the front door. [Goes around the front, leaving the party in front of the window]

Clint: [Looks at the figurines in disgust] No! They're girly as hell. [Tries to look past the displays for a glimpse of Dominique] Where's the dame?!

Harvey : [To Clint] Mr Scar, please remember that the troops need a place to sta tonight and this good lady may be our last hope!

Alice : Too right, Uncle Harvey! [To Clint] Let's just wait until we're asleep before you insult her, okay?

Monty : And as they are likely precious to the occupant, do take care not to damage them in any way? I have this strange premonition of row upon row of figurines smashing to the ground. Then again, as concerns this group it's perhaps less a premonition and more or a logical deduction.

Smock: [Peering at the window display] How come they look like all the people what we have seen live here? Doesn't that seem a little creepy?

Harvey : [Looks at the porcelain figures] Well cadet, this does seem to be quite an artistic town, what! Perhaps their custom is to have a figurine made of them, rather like some have portraits painted of them! Why, [eyes fill with pride] my dear niece Alice is quite the artist and I'm sure will feel quite at home in this good ladies house, perhaps swapping artistic tips and whatnot!

Monty : Perhaps you ought to consider how best to pose in the event that the offer is extended to manufacture a figurine of you, Colonel? [Pauses.] [Thoughtfully.] For some reason, the idea of our party being crafted as figurines strikes me as a bad idea...

Alice : Don't worry, Monty, it's really easy. Like Uncle Harvey's said, I'm very artistic, painting, sculpture, that thing with the candles, there's nothing to it. Just whip your kit off and you're done! [Looks at the figurines] It is a little strange that they look like the people. Have we seen all of them, I wonder? ### Each figurine on the page has a number, which you can see by pointing the ### mouse at it. If you want to talk about one, you can address them this way, e.g. ### Alice : [Points at figurine 1] Ew!

Smock: All 'cept that one I think. [Points at figurine #1] Maybe that's the fudge man.

Harvey : [Rubbing his stomach] Hmm, fudge. [Gets a golden honey eyed locust from his pocket and munches it. Looking at the figures] Strange, very strange. Perhaps Ms Dominick can tell us more about them.

Clint: [Points at figure #10] I wouldn't kick that broad outta bed. [nudges Monty and gives him a grin]

Harvey : [To Clint] I should think not Private Scar, there'll be no kicking any women folk or, by golly, you'll answer to me! [Punches his fist firmly into his palm]

Clint: [Stifles a snort and salutes Harvey mockingly] Sir, yes, sir!

Harvey : [Nods approvingly] That's more like it Private Scar, chin up!

Clint: [Sarcastically] Sure thing, Harv. [To Smock, with a smirk, gesturing at the figures] Sorry they don't have any roach dollies for you, kid. Tough break.

Alice : [Looks at figure #10] That looks like that bitchy ballerina - I think it's her who'd be kicking you out, Clint! That one [points at figure #1] could be that annoying little kid.

Clint: [Looks at Alice incredulously] With that figure?! That broad hasn't ever had any brats. No way, no how!

Alice : And what makes you think she'll make an exception for you?

Harvey : [Squinting at the figures] Hmm, that one holding the book [Points at number 6] must be that Faith girl, and the one with the baby that looks like a monkey, must be Shelly [Points at number 13]

Alice : Yeah, they're all here. The Tweedles on the top, [Working her way along the second row] Alf, John, Leon and the Spratts. [Third row] Rick, Godmother, the annoying kid, and Dawson, [fourth row] and Julia, Tiffany, and Harvey's girls Faith and Shelley. Oh, and look, there's another one off to the side.

Full window of Dominick's

Clint: [Looks at Alice incredulously] With that figure?! That broad hasn't ever had any brats. No way, no how!

Alice : And what makes you think she'll make an exception for you?

Harvey : [Squinting at the figures] Hmm, that one holding the book [Points at number 6] must be that Faith girl, and the one with the baby that looks like a monkey, must be Shelly [Points at number 13]

Alice : Yeah, they're all here. The Tweedles on the top, [Working her way along the second row] Alf, John, Leon and the Spratts. [Third row] Rick, Godmother, the annoying kid, and Dawson, [fourth row] and Julia, Tiffany, and Harvey's girls Faith and Shelley. Oh, and look, there's another one off to the side.

Full window of Dominick's From evarelle@yahoo.com Mon Aug 22 15:01:52 2005

DomainKey-Signature: a=rsa-sha1; q=dns; c=nofws; s=s1024; d=yahoo.com;

h=Message-ID:Received:Date:From:Subject:To:Cc:In-Reply-To:MIME-Version:Content-Type:Content-Transfer-Encoding; b=DIDz9cbv/jlxunpQM+DiNskL1eQaC1xGYFhPwG7MXBpYp0fgV8vVYKICPcSBSejESH1UMGFRO81meDRBT9ADBTy9dqGhhtWgyu3vd+/SOp1lpSZhKIXQOScMfW2fJuUghZfgPU5d1IMfCVKg7mQwrjvs3fiUTVj/im+NFQNRFO8= ;

Smock: [Points at figure #8] Don't you mean Roberta? [Crosses her arms] I still think it's creepy. And why isn't there one for Dominick?

Harvey : [To Alice] Julia? I thought her name was Roberta! Dam, this old soilder could do with a good nights RnR. ### Gah! Yet another reason to hate Julia Roberts!

Alice : Uh, yeah, that's what I mean, Roberta. [Points at #14] Maybe that's Dominick?

Chastity : I thought John said that this house belonged to Dominique, not Dominick.

Smock: [To Chastity] Whatever. I think that [points to #14] is meant to be a man - despite the pretty colours and frills. So either [emphasising the ending] Dominique dresses funny, or she isn't there. I guess we gotta wait til the dill, John, gets her out here. I'm sure Clint's trained eye can pick out her looks.

Harvey : [To Chastity] Indeed sister, the girl's name is Dominique Dominick. Odd what!

Chastity : Correct, Colonel, although we have met people with similar names before. Remember Danielle Daniel and Nicole Nicolau?

Alice : Wasn't there another person in the town? Fudgepacker, or something? That Dawson Creep guy mentioned him.

Danielle Daniel

Nicole Nicolau ### Danielle was Boddy's wife. Each of Alice, Austin, Clint, Chastity and ### Harvey met her, and everyone liked her and her "eggy bread" very ### much. She was killed by Contagion. ### Nicole was a girlfriend of Darius. While Danielle was a homely ### housewife type, Nicole was something of a wild sexual predator, ### and who was hit on repeatedly (without success) by Austin and Clint

Harvey : This Dominique Dominick girl may well be a soul mate of Danielle Daniel and Nicole Nicolau, and thus her partner may well be a soul mate of Mr Boddy and Darius, perhaps they will let us stay the night after all, but we must be cautious, [Gestures to figure 14] that could be Dominique's partner.

Alice : He's a bit prissy looking, isn't he? I mean, Darius and Boddy are, well, you know!

[Enter JOHN, in a state of panic.]

John : Quickly! I think the house is on fire!

Clint: What?! [springs into action, looking around for evidence of fire]

[Everyone follows CLINT around to the front of the house, and it is clear that there is a fire, on the first floor. Other townspeople are also appearing.]

Alice : Quickly, Stinky, kick the door in! ### First floor == upstairs, to you foreigners

Clint: Everybody outta the way! [kicks the door in with unbridled glee]

Monty : [To the townspeople.] Can you form a bucket brigade to help put this out?

Harvey : Come along people, shake a leg, what! [Looks at the scene inside]

Harvey : [To Monty] Spendid idea Mr Giles, you form a bucket brigade, get your hands dirty for a change, chop chop!

John : I'll help!

[As JOHN and the others start running around looking for buckets, CLINT easily kicks the door open, and it is clear that the fire is upstairs, and that the ground floor is relatively undamaged.]

Alice : Let's go - but if I singe my hair, there's gonna be trouble!

Harvey : [Moves inside] Hello, hello, is there anyone trapped in here? [Looks at Clint] And private Scar, I will ask you now not to even think of urinating upon these flames, as with your usual alchohol consumption, it would no doubt be like pouring fuel on the fire!

Chastity : [Handing out wet tea towels to people] These will help you with the smoke.

Alice : [Also stepping in, putting a tea towel over her mouth, and turning to Harvey] Marmee, ookop pairs!

Harvey : [Takes a damp teatowel and wraps it around his nose and mouth and nods at Alice] Ahl ookop pairs, ear nees! [Begins to make his way upstairs]

[The party begin to slowly make their way upstairs, but the fire is raging above them, and the heat is beating them back. They can just about make out the figure of woman, lying on the ground.]

Alice : Idink des ed!

Monty : [Speaking through his tea towel.] Uhum. S. [Calls out forcibly towards the downstairs, enough to be heard clearly.] We need some of that water up here, quickly!

Rick : [Standing at the doorway, and turning to address the people outside] Eyeedaowel!

Alf : [Grabs a teatowel from Rick] Stop that!

[The stairs that the party on suddenly collapse, sending them plummeting down.]

Smock: [Darting to the bottom of the staircase. To the townsfolk] Water! We need water now! [Book V, Act III, Scene III. The Entrance to Metaplasia. ALICE, CLINT, HARVEY, MONTY and SMOCK are here, walking in. It is now daylight, and it is immediately clear that Dominick's is undamaged. Enter LEON FACHE.]

Leon : Bark! Bark! What are you doing here?

Alice : [Looks around her, startled] Uh, good question!

Alice : Uh, she just disappeared! What's going on?

Leon : Bark! [To Ellen] Who are you? Who is this Leo you speak of?

Smock: [To Leon] The dog routine was great the first time, Leo, but you don't want to wear it out... [To party, anxiously] Where's Chastity?

Smock: Yeah, you're Leon, and it's your turn to play guard dog, right? To refresh your memory, I'm Smock. And these guys are Alice, Clint, Harvey and Monty.

Harvey : [Rubbing his rumbling stomach] Perhaps well be able to make the presentation on time, while the food is still hot!

Leon : I am Leon, but I have never met any of you. How do you know my name?

Harvey : [To Leon] We have met you all before, even if you don't remember it. We met you, Roberta, Tiffany, Shelly, Faith, Godmother, Alf, Rosanne, David, Q, rick, john, dawson, Tweedlebush and Tweedletony, everyone in fact, except Dominique Dominck and her partner, whom we were about to go and visit! [To the Party] Perhaps we should go and visit Ms Dominick now to see if we can save her.

Alice : [Gives Harvey a nudge, and whispers quietly] It's not Roberta, it's Julia.

Leon : [Surprised] Hm. You do seem to know a lot about the town, except Dominique doesn't have a partner. Oh, and you missed out on Reginald. Reginald Fudgeworthy.

Harvey : [To Leon] Ahh! Well we didn't me Mr Fudgeworthy either. We would like to meet Ms Dominick as soon as possible, time is of the essence!

Clint: [To Harvey] What about Chas?!

Leon : [Shrugs] Sure.

[LEON steps back to let the party walk up to DOMINICK'S, where they pause at the window for a moment.]

Alice : [Looking in] Hm. There's something not quite right here. [Gives a theatrical gasp of shock] Oh no! No!

Dominick's window ### I've slightly changed the way the links work. Previously, there was just ### a single page that was updated each time there was a change, e.g. ### http://www.queens-view.com/Resources/Figurines would always show ### the latest updated. Now that we have the links embedded in the script, ### however, it makes sense to have a different page for each update, so ### the link still makes sense when people re-read the scripts. That's how ### we'll do it from now on, but if you try to open the directory (as in the ### link I have up there) you will get the latest version.

Smock: [To Clint] Maybe she got stuck on the stairs when we got chucked out here. Maybe she's still in there.

Clint: [Pointing at figurine 15, stunned] Chas?! If that's her [points to 14] think maybe that's the lawyer?? He's got that same pansy-ass look about him.

Harvey : [Staring at the figurine of Chastity] Something fishy is goin on here troop, and we're going to get to the bottom of it!

Alice : [Frantically rubbing her forehead] What? [Looks again] Ah! It's a speck on the glass. Now, what's that about Chastity? [Looks down at the new figurine] It's uncanny!

Smock: I told you they were creepy! [To Clint] But Chastity replaced someone else. [Getting confused] Does that mean there's no Godmother anymore? Or did Austin replace someone too? [Frowns] Let's go get some answers out of this Dominique... [Storms off toward the front door] goin on here

Alice : Well, it sure does look like this Dominique person knows something!

[Enter DOMINIQUE DOMINICK, coming around the corner, and almost colliding with SMOCK. Although dressed in a tatty old sweat pants and worn shirt, she is clearly very beautiful.]

Dominique : Oops! Sorry! [Looks at the party, quite taken aback] Oh. Oh! [Abruptly turns and disappears back around the corner]

Dominique

Smock: Oh no you don't! [Chases after Dominique]

[The party all rush after SMOCK, only to see DOMINIQUE's door slam shut and lock.]

Alice : Hey! She's definitely up to something!

[There are a few people wandering about, including ALF, JOHN and SHELLEY, who stop to watch the commotion.]

Clint: [Bangs on the door] If you don't open this door by the time I count to three, I'm kicking it in, you crazy broad! [Flexes his door-kicking foot in anticipation] All right, 1, 2--[waits for Dominique to open up]

Harvey : Perhaps she has just gone to get changed into something smarter, we probably just caught her off guard.

Alice : Well, they were pretty ratty pants.

Alf : [Approaching the party] Ah! Strangers! Here for tonight's lecture no doubt. Hello, I am Alf Grand.

Alf : I say! Stop that at once!

John : [Dashes over and takes a photograph] Woo! Front page tomorrow!

Smock: Yeah! [Getting excited and stepping out of Clint's way. To Dominique] We are so coming in, whether you like it or not!

Clint: [Nods at Smock enthusiastically] 3! [Attempts to kick the door in]

[The door cracks down the middle.]

Alf : I say!

John : You bastard! [Throws himself at Clint, knocking him hard against the door.]

Shelley : Help! Help! Someone's trying to kill Dominique!

Clint: [Attempts to push John away] Back off! This broad seems to know something about a couple of our friends who've gone missing. I'm probably not gonna kill her! I just wanna know what she knows.

Smock: [To John] Yeah, she ran away like she knows exactly what's going on!

Harvey : [Furiously] Private Scar! What the bally hell do you think you are doing? Stop this aggressive behaviour now before these good people throw you in prison! [To Smock] Please do not encourage him Cadet Smock, these people are not our enemies!

Smock: [To Harvey] Oh, yessir. [Salutes crisply with genuine intent. To Alf and John] Sorry. But she really does know something about our friend - there's a figurine of her in the window!

Alf : What? A figurine? What are you talking about?

[CLINT pushes JOHN off him, but there are now more people gathering around, including LEON and RICK.]

John : [To Rick] Rick! This guy tried to break down Dominique's door!

Rick : [Peers at John] Do I know you?

Clint: [To Alf] In the window! We lost a nun, and suddenly--there's a nun in the window!

Alf : Let me get this straight. You're accusing Dominique of stealing a figurine?

Clint: [Exasperated] No, gramps! We lost a real, hairy flesh and blood nun. We also lost a real girly lawyer, and there's also a figurine of a girly lawyer in the window. There's gotta be a connection! [Yells through the door to Dominique] Tell us what you know!

Smock: [To Alf] After the one about punctuality.

Rick : [Grabs Clint by the shirt] You leave her alone!

[The door is opened by DOMINIQUE, now dressed in a gorgeous silk dress, and looking ravishing. She gives a big smile.]

Dominique : Please, Rick, leave him alone. There's just been a misunderstanding, they're uh, old friends of mine. ### It is pretty clear that Dominique does look very much like Nicole ### and Danielle

Smock: [To Alf] And we were here just before, after your lecture, even though none of you remember, and this place [gestures at Dominique's house] was on fire. [Imploring] We just want some answers.

Rick : [To Dominique] Do I know you?

Alf : [To Smock] Which lecture? Last week's one?

Clint: [To Dominique, checking her out wolfishly] Old friends, eh? Is your name really Dominique?

Alf : [To Ellen] Punctuality? Is this some sort of ill conceived childish prank? That lecture isn't until tonight! [Looks around at the party.]

Alice : Hey! Don't look at me, I'm not her mother! I'm barely old enough to be her older sister!

Dominique : [Smiles as Clint checks her out] Maybe! [Steps back] Won't you and your friends come in?

Smock: I'm not waiting out here! No one believes me, and I might get a chance to beat up those irritating twins... [Bustles past Clint and Dominique into the house]

Clint: [Big cheesy grin] Be nicer if they stayed out here, don't you think? [Wiggles his eyebrows suggestively and steps into the room]

Dominique : [To Clint] But then they wouldn't get to see you flirting, and they'd be so, so sad.

[Enter ALL into the house, and through to the sitting room, which has a number of couches and chairs.]

Alf : Perhaps I should come in too, to ensure your safety. I think that -

Dominique : [Closing the door on Alf] No, that'll be quite all right.

Clint: [Once the door is shut. To Dominique] So, who are you really? You're a dead-ringer for a couple of broads we've met before.

Dominique : Are you sure? [Leans in close to Clint] I'm sure I'm way more attractive. [Steps back] I really am Dominique Dominick - who are these other [as though it's the first time she's ever said the word, although enjoying the experience] broads? And who are you?

Clint: [Grins appreciatively and looks directly at Dominique's breasts] Yeah, you're way hotter than them, now that I've gotten a better look. Oh, right, we're [points at each in turn] Harvey, Alice, Monty, and [hesitates when he points at Smock, as if puzzled] Smirk, I think it is? Anyway, we're missing two members of the party, and you just happen to have figurines that look just like 'em. Pretty weird coincidence, wouldn't you say?! Seen any lawyers or nuns around lately?

Smock : It's Smock.

Dominique : [Smiles at Clint, before addressing the party] He's smooth, isn't he? He must be a real ladykiller.

Alice : Yeah, he's killed a bunch of women. He's a real brute.

Dominique : [Regards Clint with a curious and interested look for a moment] Really? Anyway, it's not a coincidence, I'm afraid. They've become part of Metaplasia.

Clint: [Alarmed] Part of Metaplasia?! What the hell does that mean? Are they dead?

Dominique : Oh, goodness, no. In fact, they're almost certainly somewhere in the village. We can take a look for them if you want, but I'm not sure there's anything you can do. I think they're going to be here until they are replaced by someone else, and then, [sadly] then I think they'll be dead.

[An air of tension falls on the room, and everyone takes on a sombre mood.]

Alice : [Over by the shelf, playing with the statues of Tweedlebush and Tweedletony, speaking in a squeaky voice] We must stop the child threat! [Holds up Tweedletony, and moves him up and down as she speaks] I think you're a-okay, Tweedlebush! [Moves Tweedletony] And I think that I'm a-okay too! [Suddenly realises the room has gone quiet, and puts them back on the shelf, embarrassed] Ahem.

Monty : [Speaking through his tea towel.] Uhum. S. [Calls out forcibly towards the downstairs, enough to be heard clearly.] We need some of that water up here, quickly!

Rick : [Standing at the doorway, and turning to address the people outside] Eyeedaowel!

Alf : [Grabs a teatowel from Rick] Stop that!

[The stairs that the party on suddenly collapse, sending them plummeting down.]

Smock: [Darting to the bottom of the staircase. To the townsfolk] Water! We need water now! [Book V, Act III, Scene III. The Entrance to Metaplasia. ALICE, CLINT, HARVEY, MONTY and SMOCK are here, walking in. It is now daylight, and it is immediately clear that Dominick's is undamaged. Enter LEON FACHE.]

Leon : Bark! Bark! What are you doing here?

Alice : [Looks around her, startled] Uh, good question!

Alice : Uh, she just disappeared! What's going on?

Leon : Bark! [To Ellen] Who are you? Who is this Leo you speak of?

Smock: [To Leon] The dog routine was great the first time, Leo, but you don't want to wear it out... [To party, anxiously] Where's Chastity?

Smock: Yeah, you're Leon, and it's your turn to play guard dog, right? To refresh your memory, I'm Smock. And these guys are Alice, Clint, Harvey and Monty.

Harvey : [Rubbing his rumbling stomach] Perhaps well be able to make the presentation on time, while the food is still hot!

Leon : I am Leon, but I have never met any of you. How do you know my name?

Harvey : [To Leon] We have met you all before, even if you don't remember it. We met you, Roberta, Tiffany, Shelly, Faith, Godmother, Alf, Rosanne, David, Q, rick, john, dawson, Tweedlebush and Tweedletony, everyone in fact, except Dominique Dominck and her partner, whom we were about to go and visit! [To the Party] Perhaps we should go and visit Ms Dominick now to see if we can save her.

Alice : [Gives Harvey a nudge, and whispers quietly] It's not Roberta, it's Julia.

Leon : [Surprised] Hm. You do seem to know a lot about the town, except Dominique doesn't have a partner. Oh, and you missed out on Reginald. Reginald Fudgeworthy.

Harvey : [To Leon] Ahh! Well we didn't me Mr Fudgeworthy either. We would like to meet Ms Dominick as soon as possible, time is of the essence!

Clint: [To Harvey] What about Chas?!

Leon : [Shrugs] Sure.

[LEON steps back to let the party walk up to DOMINICK'S, where they pause at the window for a moment.]

Alice : [Looking in] Hm. There's something not quite right here. [Gives a theatrical gasp of shock] Oh no! No!

Dominick's window ### I've slightly changed the way the links work. Previously, there was just ### a single page that was updated each time there was a change, e.g. ### http://www.queens-view.com/Resources/Figurines would always show ### the latest updated. Now that we have the links embedded in the script, ### however, it makes sense to have a different page for each update, so ### the link still makes sense when people re-read the scripts. That's how ### we'll do it from now on, but if you try to open the directory (as in the ### link I have up there) you will get the latest version.

Smock: [To Clint] Maybe she got stuck on the stairs when we got chucked out here. Maybe she's still in there.

Clint: [Pointing at figurine 15, stunned] Chas?! If that's her [points to 14] think maybe that's the lawyer?? He's got that same pansy-ass look about him.

Harvey : [Staring at the figurine of Chastity] Something fishy is goin on here troop, and we're going to get to the bottom of it!

Alice : [Frantically rubbing her forehead] What? [Looks again] Ah! It's a speck on the glass. Now, what's that about Chastity? [Looks down at the new figurine] It's uncanny!

Smock: I told you they were creepy! [To Clint] But Chastity replaced someone else. [Getting confused] Does that mean there's no Godmother anymore? Or did Austin replace someone too? [Frowns] Let's go get some answers out of this Dominique... [Storms off toward the front door] goin on here

Alice : Well, it sure does look like this Dominique person knows something!

[Enter DOMINIQUE DOMINICK, coming around the corner, and almost colliding with SMOCK. Although dressed in a tatty old sweat pants and worn shirt, she is clearly very beautiful.]

Dominique : Oops! Sorry! [Looks at the party, quite taken aback] Oh. Oh! [Abruptly turns and disappears back around the corner]

Dominique

Smock: Oh no you don't! [Chases after Dominique]

[The party all rush after SMOCK, only to see DOMINIQUE's door slam shut and lock.]

Alice : Hey! She's definitely up to something!

[There are a few people wandering about, including ALF, JOHN and SHELLEY, who stop to watch the commotion.]

Clint: [Bangs on the door] If you don't open this door by the time I count to three, I'm kicking it in, you crazy broad! [Flexes his door-kicking foot in anticipation] All right, 1, 2--[waits for Dominique to open up]

Harvey : Perhaps she has just gone to get changed into something smarter, we probably just caught her off guard.

Alice : Well, they were pretty ratty pants.

Alf : [Approaching the party] Ah! Strangers! Here for tonight's lecture no doubt. Hello, I am Alf Grand.

Alf : I say! Stop that at once!

John : [Dashes over and takes a photograph] Woo! Front page tomorrow!

Smock: Yeah! [Getting excited and stepping out of Clint's way. To Dominique] We are so coming in, whether you like it or not!

Clint: [Nods at Smock enthusiastically] 3! [Attempts to kick the door in]

[The door cracks down the middle.]

Alf : I say!

John : You bastard! [Throws himself at Clint, knocking him hard against the door.]

Shelley : Help! Help! Someone's trying to kill Dominique!

Clint: [Attempts to push John away] Back off! This broad seems to know something about a couple of our friends who've gone missing. I'm probably not gonna kill her! I just wanna know what she knows.

Smock: [To John] Yeah, she ran away like she knows exactly what's going on!

Harvey : [Furiously] Private Scar! What the bally hell do you think you are doing? Stop this aggressive behaviour now before these good people throw you in prison! [To Smock] Please do not encourage him Cadet Smock, these people are not our enemies!

Smock: [To Harvey] Oh, yessir. [Salutes crisply with genuine intent. To Alf and John] Sorry. But she really does know something about our friend - there's a figurine of her in the window!

Alf : What? A figurine? What are you talking about?

[CLINT pushes JOHN off him, but there are now more people gathering around, including LEON and RICK.]

John : [To Rick] Rick! This guy tried to break down Dominique's door!

Rick : [Peers at John] Do I know you?

Clint: [To Alf] In the window! We lost a nun, and suddenly--there's a nun in the window!

Alf : Let me get this straight. You're accusing Dominique of stealing a figurine?

Clint: [Exasperated] No, gramps! We lost a real, hairy flesh and blood nun. We also lost a real girly lawyer, and there's also a figurine of a girly lawyer in the window. There's gotta be a connection! [Yells through the door to Dominique] Tell us what you know!

Smock: [To Alf] After the one about punctuality.

Rick : [Grabs Clint by the shirt] You leave her alone!

[The door is opened by DOMINIQUE, now dressed in a gorgeous silk dress, and looking ravishing. She gives a big smile.]

Dominique : Please, Rick, leave him alone. There's just been a misunderstanding, they're uh, old friends of mine. ### It is pretty clear that Dominique does look very much like Nicole ### and Danielle

Smock: [To Alf] And we were here just before, after your lecture, even though none of you remember, and this place [gestures at Dominique's house] was on fire. [Imploring] We just want some answers.

Rick : [To Dominique] Do I know you?

Alf : [To Smock] Which lecture? Last week's one?

Clint: [To Dominique, checking her out wolfishly] Old friends, eh? Is your name really Dominique?

Alf : [To Ellen] Punctuality? Is this some sort of ill conceived childish prank? That lecture isn't until tonight! [Looks around at the party.]

Alice : Hey! Don't look at me, I'm not her mother! I'm barely old enough to be her older sister!

Dominique : [Smiles as Clint checks her out] Maybe! [Steps back] Won't you and your friends come in?

Smock: I'm not waiting out here! No one believes me, and I might get a chance to beat up those irritating twins... [Bustles past Clint and Dominique into the house]

Clint: [Big cheesy grin] Be nicer if they stayed out here, don't you think? [Wiggles his eyebrows suggestively and steps into the room]

Dominique : [To Clint] But then they wouldn't get to see you flirting, and they'd be so, so sad.

[Enter ALL into the house, and through to the sitting room, which has a number of couches and chairs.]

Alf : Perhaps I should come in too, to ensure your safety. I think that -

Dominique : [Closing the door on Alf] No, that'll be quite all right. From heather.goggans@gmail.com Tue Aug 23 16:05:47 2005

DomainKey-Signature: a=rsa-sha1; q=dns; c=nofws; s=beta; d=gmail.com;

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Clint: [Once the door is shut. To Dominique] So, who are you really? You're a dead-ringer for a couple of broads we've met before.

Dominique : Are you sure? [Leans in close to Clint] I'm sure I'm way more attractive. [Steps back] I really am Dominique Dominick - who are these other [as though it's the first time she's ever said the word, although enjoying the experience] broads? And who are you?

Clint: [Grins appreciatively and looks directly at Dominique's breasts] Yeah, you're way hotter than them, now that I've gotten a better look. Oh, right, we're [points at each in turn] Harvey, Alice, Monty, and [hesitates when he points at Smock, as if puzzled] Smirk, I think it is? Anyway, we're missing two members of the party, and you just happen to have figurines that look just like 'em. Pretty weird coincidence, wouldn't you say?! Seen any lawyers or nuns around lately?

Smock : It's Smock.

Dominique : [Smiles at Clint, before addressing the party] He's smooth, isn't he? He must be a real ladykiller.

Alice : Yeah, he's killed a bunch of women. He's a real brute.

Dominique : [Regards Clint with a curious and interested look for a moment] Really? Anyway, it's not a coincidence, I'm afraid. They've become part of Metaplasia.

Clint: [Alarmed] Part of Metaplasia?! What the hell does that mean? Are they dead?

Dominique : Oh, goodness, no. In fact, they're almost certainly somewhere in the village. We can take a look for them if you want, but I'm not sure there's anything you can do. I think they're going to be here until they are replaced by someone else, and then, [sadly] then I think they'll be dead.

[An air of tension falls on the room, and everyone takes on a sombre mood.]

Alice : [Over by the shelf, playing with the statues of Tweedlebush and Tweedletony, speaking in a squeaky voice] We must stop the child threat! [Holds up Tweedletony, and moves him up and down as she speaks] I think you're a-okay, Tweedlebush! [Moves Tweedletony] And I think that I'm a-okay too! [Suddenly realises the room has gone quiet, and puts them back on the shelf, embarrassed] Ahem.

Dominique : That depends. Who are you looking for?

Harvey : Careful with those figurines, dearest niece. One slip of the grip and they would be in a million pieces! [To Dominique] We must find the other members of the troop as soon as humanly possible. Where do you think would be a good place to start our search?

Harvey : We are looking for a nun called Sister Chastity Browne, and a man called Austin Sleaze. [Scratches at a sideburn] Do you know of them?

Dominique : No, I'm afraid not. [Points at the figurines] Which ones are they? Oh! Would anyone like something? It's been a long time since anyone new has called, so forgive my rudeness. A drink? Something to eat? Some eggy bread, maybe?

Harvey : [Examines the figurines and points to ##15 and after a moment, ##14] Those two there, that's them, my dear! Do you recognise them? In fact, what on earth did you mean when you said they'd become a part of this place? Why them?

Dominique : Sure, [points them out] that's Reginald, and that's Godmother. Well [gives a big sigh] this is going to sound crazy, but the town is in a loop, we keep repeating this day. What happened to your friends? I don't know, but any time a stranger comes in, they disappear after a few days.

Alice : Maybe they just leave?

Dominique : They can't!

Clint: Ha! Try and stop us! We're outta here the minute we find Chas and the lawyer.

Dominique : Take me with you! [Gets a bit embarrassed, and calms herself down] Can I get you anything?

Smock: You said they got eaten up by the town, but that doesn't explain why you've got figurines of everyone! And how come no one else knows that this day is repeating? [Stands up to Dominique, defiantly] You're hiding something!

Monty : Ah... for myself, I'd simply like some form of explanation as to how this situation came about? Repeating one's day endlessly isn't entirely natural. Ahem. Well, unless you're a middle manager.

Alice : [Nods] Yeah, poor old Monty.

Dominique : [Unphased at Smock's reaction] No I'm not. I don't know why no one else knows. I'd also like an explanation. One night I was in bed, and woke up to a terrible fire. I tried to escape, but only got as far as the landing, where I passed out. When I woke up, everything was back to normal, but the day repeated itself, and has ever since, and I've been stuck here.

Alice : What about the figurines?

Dominique : They're stuck here too.

Smock: How many days have you been here?

Monty : I see. Were they here prior to the fire? And in either event, have you not made any attempt to be elsewhere when the time for the fire arrives?

Dominique : [Wearily] Yes. I have tried everything I could think of to avoid the fire, I've been through this day hundreds of times. It hasn't all been sitting around drinking brandy, you know! The figurines were a present from the people living in the town, for some reason they hold me in very high regard. It's really cute, actually, as they all try to look out for me.

[Everyone turns and looks at the window, around which virtually everyone in the town is gathered, looking in.]

Rick : [Knocking on the glass] Hey! Do I know you?

Monty : [Nods affirmatively to Rick.] [To Dominique] Have you tried breaking any of the figurines, ma'am? Since this all began, that is.

Clint: [To Dominique, with gleaming eyes] Brandy?

Harvey : [To Dominick] Hmmm, Some of your fine eggy bread would be greatly appreciated, your sould mates Danielle and Nicole were true connoisseurs of eggy bread, what! [Ponders] Hmm, perhaps that is the key to this rum loop we seem to be trapped in.

Dominique : [To Clint] Sure thing, hon. [Pours out a huge glass of brandy for him] You'll need the strength to fix the door.

Alice : Remember, Harvey, it was only Danielle who was into eggy bread. Nicole was more into, you know! [Makes a whipping motion and noise]

Dominique : Oh, bless you! [Hands Alice a tissue]

Smock: 'Eggy bread' sounds grand. But I want outta here. Shouldn't we go find Chastity and Austin?

Alice : [Glances over at the crowd of people peering in] Maybe they're out there?

Smock: [Going to the window, careful not to knock any figurines. To Rick] Oy! Get your big mugg outta the way so I can see!

Smock: You said they got eaten up by the town, but that doesn't explain why you've got figurines of everyone! And how come no one else knows that this day is repeating? [Stands up to Dominique, defiantly] You're hiding something!

Monty : Ah... for myself, I'd simply like some form of explanation as to how this situation came about? Repeating one's day endlessly isn't entirely natural. Ahem. Well, unless you're a middle manager.

Alice : [Nods] Yeah, poor old Monty.

Dominique : [Unphased at Smock's reaction] No I'm not. I don't know why no one else knows. I'd also like an explanation. One night I was in bed, and woke up to a terrible fire. I tried to escape, but only got as far as the landing, where I passed out. When I woke up, everything was back to normal, but the day repeated itself, and has ever since, and I've been stuck here.

Alice : What about the figurines?

Dominique : They're stuck here too.

Smock: How many days have you been here?

Monty : I see. Were they here prior to the fire? And in either event, have you not made any attempt to be elsewhere when the time for the fire arrives?

Dominique : [Wearily] Yes. I have tried everything I could think of to avoid the fire, I've been through this day hundreds of times. It hasn't all been sitting around drinking brandy, you know! The figurines were a present from the people living in the town, for some reason they hold me in very high regard. It's really cute, actually, as they all try to look out for me.

[Everyone turns and looks at the window, around which virtually everyone in the town is gathered, looking in.]

Rick : [Knocking on the glass] Hey! Do I know you?

Monty : [Nods affirmatively to Rick.] [To Dominique] Have you tried breaking any of the figurines, ma'am? Since this all began, that is.

Clint: [To Dominique, with gleaming eyes] Brandy?

Harvey : [To Dominick] Hmmm, Some of your fine eggy bread would be greatly appreciated, your sould mates Danielle and Nicole were true connoisseurs of eggy bread, what! [Ponders] Hmm, perhaps that is the key to this rum loop we seem to be trapped in.

Dominique : [To Clint] Sure thing, hon. [Pours out a huge glass of brandy for him] You'll need the strength to fix the door.

Alice : Remember, Harvey, it was only Danielle who was into eggy bread. Nicole was more into, you know! [Makes a whipping motion and noise]

Dominique : Oh, bless you! [Hands Alice a tissue]

Smock: 'Eggy bread' sounds grand. But I want outta here. Shouldn't we go find Chastity and Austin?

Alice : [Glances over at the crowd of people peering in] Maybe they're out there?

Smock: [Going to the window, careful not to knock any figurines. To Rick] Oy! Get your big mugg outta the way so I can see!

Rick : [Not budging] Do I know you?

Smock: [Impatiently] You did, but now you don't, so to

make it easier: hi Rick, my name is Smock. There. Now you do. Happy?

Clint: [Downs his brandy and tries to get a look out the window. To Dominique] Ever tried breaking the figurines?

Dominique : [Gives Clint another brandy] Loads of times! They break just like any other piece of porcelain.

Alice : [Looks at a hugely expensive looking vase] Like this, for example?

Dominique : I guess.

[There's a short pause, as ALICE gets increasingly twitchy.]

Dominique : Go on, break it. It's not like it won't be here tomorrow.

[ALICE elbows the vase, knocking it onto the floor, where, of course, it doesn't break.]

Alice : Hey!

Dominique : [Laughs, as she pours herself a brandy] Sorry! It's made of plastic, I couldn't resist. [Knocks back the brandy]

Clint: [Snorts in a amusement. To Dominique] You're my kinda broad, baby! [Downs the second brandy and asks] So, how does the fire start?

Smock: [To Rick] So are you gonna move or what, buddy?

Rick : [Leans in closer to Smock, banging his head off the window] Ow. [Rubs his forehead] No.

Dominique : [Gives Clint a wink] Now, is that compliment? Or an insult? [Thinks for a moment] The fire. Let's see. Originally? I'm not sure. It started out in the hallway, but if I try to sleep out in the hallway, it starts somewhere else.

Alice : [Standing up the vase] We'd better get a hose in here fast, don't you think?

Smock: [Scowls at Rick] Grrr.... [To Alice] Yeah, I think Clint needs a good cold shower.

Alice : [Nods] And not just him! No wonder all those people are looking in!

Harvey : [To Dominique] Have you tried sleeping outside or in someone else's house?

Dominique : Yes! I've even tried staying awake all night, but there's always some crazy or improbable accident that happens.

Harvey : [Shakes his head in disbelief] Sounds dammed odd to me. Are there any other constant, err thingies, you know, [pauses] events,[pauses] appart from the house going on fire and your supposed death?

Dominique : [Emphasis] Everything's the same! Alf gives that damned lecture every night, Rick is always out on the street at ten in the morning asking if he knows who I am, Godmother always arrives at the same time with scones. If I disrupt things by doing something [blushes a little] outrageous or something, everything flows around that, but you wouldn't believe what it took that time to stop Alf from giving the lecture.

Dominique : Oh, now, Clint, I couldn't possibly say it in front of so many people. I am a lady, you know. [Whispers something to Clint]

Clint: [Intrigued] Come on, girl! Don't be shy. What did it take??

Clint: [Listens to Dominique whisper for several minutes, seemingly mesmerized, oblivious to the initial curiosity and then growing boredom of the rest of the party. To Dominique, awe-struck, his voice quavering] Right. I'm going to rescue you, woman, and take you away from all this crazy crap [attempts to embrace and kiss Dominique].

Dominique : [Fights Clint off] Easy tiger!

Alice : [Completely intrigued] What? What did she do? What did she do?

Dominique : [Finger gun at Alice] Click-click!

Clint: [Winks at Dominique] Gotcha, baby. We'll save it for later. [To the rest of the party] Let's get moving. I'm not gonna stick around here and watch this day repeat itself! [To Dominique] What happens when you try to leave town?

Dominique : It's like there's an invisible barrier, and I just bounce off it, although it doesn't hurt. There's another one at the entrance to the mine. The strange thing about it is that if someone else is around when it happens, they just ignore it, and everyone else seems to be able to come and go as they please.

Alice : [Getting a little whiney] Aw, come on! What was it?

[DOMINIQUE whispers something to ALICE, who's eyes get wider and wider, before she steps back, with DOMINIQUE smiling demurely at her.]

Alice : [Fanning herself with her hand] Whew. Uh. Right. I think I need a cigarette.

Monty : [Pointedly ignoring Alice's question and answer.] Ahem. You say that there's a barrier into the mine? Has anyone else from town tried descending since this began, and if so, were they also blocked? Ah... I should also ask, is the mine at roughly the edge of town, such that the barrier would naturally form there, or is this apparently a separate barrier issue?

Harvey : [To Dominique] Tell me my dear, have you ever thought of moving house? I mean, if this one burns down every evening, yet is rebuilt the next morning as if nothing has happened, why not sleep somewhere else? [Looks around] I wonder what would happen if we moved the figurines somewhere else?

Dominique : Ah, but I have tried that Harvey. You'd be surprised at how burning to death each night can focus the mind. Say, you look like a man who can appreciate a good meal. Are you hungry, by any chance?

Harvey : [Eyes light up] Why my dear creature, I am famished with the thought of eggy bread or other delicacies! [Looks darkly around] Well, apart from anything cooked on a barbeque!

Dominique : Not a fan of cooked meat, eh, Harvey? No problem, I've got just the thing for you. [Starts heading to the kitchen, but gives Clint a quick look] I'm a big fan of meat myself.

[Exit DOMINIQUE, to a room that appears to be a kitchen.]

Alice : Well now. What do we think's going on here?

Clint: [Eyes light up and he follows Dominique into the kitchen. To the party, with a wolfish grin] Might wanna just call it a night, kids. I got a feeling this may take a while!

Dominique : [Immediately coming back out of the kitchen, smacking Clint on the head with the door, and carrying a huge tray of eggy bread and a generous side of Golden Honeyed Locusts] Oops! Careful there, Lumpy. I've got guests to serve.

Harvey : [Claps his hands together delightedly] Why my dear, that is just wonderfully quick, almost as if you knew we were coming! [Descends on the tray and begins munching contentedly on the golden honeyed locusts] Superb!

Dominique : [Gently rubs Clint's forehead] Aw, poor Lumpy! [Gives Harvey a smile] Nothing so mysterious, Harvey, I had decided to make some for everyone in the town today. If I had known there were strangers in town, I wouldn't have been wandering around in those awful sweat pants earlier.

Clint: [To Dominique, defensively] What do you mean, Lumpy? [glances down at his crouch self-consciously]

Harvey : [Around a mouthful of eggy bread] Quite understandable, my dear! By the saints, this bread is simply delicious, what! So, you know the possible whereabouts of our missing troop members, eh?

Clint: [Looks relieved and gives Dominique a big cheesy grin before tearing savagely into some eggy bread] Good grub, babe! [Pauses to take a swig of Brandy and asks] Hey, why'd you decide to cook for the whole town? It's not like they'd remember you did it or anything!

Dominique : [Gives Clint a reproachful wag of her finger] Don't go all barbarianing it up on me, Lumpy, sometimes a good deed is its own reward. Besides, I feel kind of guilty for punching Tiffany in the face the other day. [To Harvey] It's a small town, Harvey. If they're not outside the window, we'll track them down easily enough.

Monty : [Sighs.] This again. [To Leon.] Are you not Leon, sir?

Smock: [Halfway through a honeyed locust, exasperated] Well they might be out there, but boofhead [points at Rick] won't move out of the way for us to see.

Smock: Good idea! [Grabs another locust, and heads for the door.]

Dominique : Don't worry, I'll sort him out. I know how to deal with these people. [Calls out] Hi Rick, can you step back please?

Rick : Do I know you?

Dominique : [Exasperated sigh] Maybe we should just go outside?

Dominique : [To Harvey and Clint] Now boys, if you can tear yourselves away from the eggy bread?

[CLINT and HARVEY reluctantly head towards the door, but not before the latter grabs a handful of golden honeyed locusts. Exit ALL.]

[Book V, Act III, Scene IV. The Streets of Metaplasia. ALICE, CLINT, HARVEY, MONTY, SMOCK and DOMINIQUE are here, having just entered. There a few townspeople here, including RICK, ALF, JOHN, SHELLEY, DAVID, Q, DAWSON, ROBERTA, TWEEDLEBUSH and TWEEDLETONY.]

Q : [Runs up to Monty] Hahaha! Boot! [Kicks Monty in the shin and runs off]

Alice : What a brat.

Roberta : Oh, he's just full of the joys of life, with the heart of an adventurer and the soul of a poet, an air of harmless mischief making that brings joy and innocence to all those around. Hello, I am Roberta.

Alice : Yeah, hi Julia. ### Just to be clear, there's no sign of either Austin or Chastity

Smock: [Fists clenched as she visibly resists the urge to smack Q and the Tweedle twins] They're not here. [To Alf] Where's your old lady?

Monty : [To Dominique] In all the fuss inside, I don't think I caught

your answer to my earlier question: Where is the mine, and has anyone visited the interior since all of this began?

Alf : My [distastefully] old lady? If you are referring to my wife, she is on her way here.

Dominique : The mine is over there [points to the west] and some people have been in there, but we can't go much further than a few feet into it. ### The mine is the part on the map marked in black

Map

Smock: [To gathered townsfolk] Has anyone seen Fudgeworthy?

Monty : And it's became that way at the same time as the repetition began? Have any visitors been down there? With your permission, perhaps we ought to take a look for ourselves...

Dominique : Yes, that's how it's been. As far as I know, no visitors have been able to get into it. You're more than welcome to check it out, but I thought you wanted to find your friends?

Dominique : [Gives Monty a peculiar smile, before stepping up very, very close to him, and adjusting his jacket slightly, so it is just so] You know what, Monty, I think you should call me Dominique. [Steps back]

Tweedlebush : I for one would like to offer our unstinting support in the search for Fudgeworthy. We would be honoured to show Dominique's guests where he lives.

Tweedletony : I think you're an a-okay kind of guy, Tweedlebush, and would also like to offer my unstinting support of your unstinting support.

Monty : [Agreeably.] Oh, we certainly do, ma'am. It's just that something that coincidental probably isn't entirely coincidental, so we'll likely need to investigate it eventually in any case.

Smock: [Eyeing the Tweedles warily] Well, come on then. Get to it. Show us where he lives!

Monty : [To Dominique] Ah... very well, Dominique. If you're certain that you don't find my doing so to be overly familiar... Ahem. I say, what time of day is it? [Glances skyward.] We'll need to get all of this taken care of before the next nightfall!

Dominique : Of course not! It's about eleven now, so we've plenty of time.

Tweedlebush : Well now, Dominique, I'm afraid I must admit that your friend has a strange way of behaving!

Tweedletony : She's not a-okay!

Tweedlebush : [To Smock] No. [Folds his arms] Let's see you find it now.

Monty : [Casts his gaze heavenward again, this time in exasperation at Tweedlebush.] [To Dominique.] Ma'am, perhaps you'd care to lead the way? To where our two missing compatriots may be found, that is. Ahem.

Smock: [Sighs, rolls her eyes] I don't want to be a-okay if it means becoming nit wits like you! [Walks off toward building H]

Tweedlebush : That's not it! [Calls after her] That's not it!

Dominique : Aw, come on, Tweedlebush. Don't be like that. She's a friend of mine.

Tweedlebush : [Sigh] Okay. [Shouts after her again] That's it!

Dominique : Hm? Are you talking to me? [Mock scolding] Now, Mister Monty, I thought we had already discussed this. Do I need to get Lumpy to have a word with you?

Smock: [Calling to party] Come on guys! [To Monty] You can woo the girl after we find a way outta here!

Monty : [To Dominique.] My apologies, ma'... ah, Dominique. I'm afraid that all of the distractions here are making it difficult to keep track of what has been said. Nevertheless, Ms. Smock seems to require my assistance, so if you'll excuse me... [Follows Smock to the building.]

Dominique : That's okay, Monty. Let's go.

[The rest of the party and DOMINIQUE head over to the door.]

Alf : [Calling after them] Don't forget my lecture tonight on punctuality! It's on at 10pm sharp.

Clint: Step aside, kid. I'll handle this [attempts to kick door down].

Smock: [Bangs on the door] Hello? Are you there Fudgy?

Harvey : [Munching on a golden honey eyed locust. To Dominique] So you have never met us before this day? I mean we haven't been part of your repeating day?

Harvey : [Loudly] Private Scar, perhaps you could check to see if the door is locked first!

Smock: [Steps out of Clint's way, grinning excitedly. To occupants] You might want to stand clear of the door actually...

Dominique : No, Harvey, this is the first time I've met any of you, but we will meet again tomorrow. [Winces as she watches Smock]

[The door opens, and TIFFANY appears.]

Tiffany : What's all this noise? [Sees Dominique] Ah, hi Dominique!

Tiffany : Help! [Gives a scream as she sees Clint's big boot hovering and about to give the door a kick]

Dominique : [Reproachfully] Lumpy! Put that thing down.

Smock: [To Tiffany] Is Fudgy home?

Tiffany : What? What's a - a Fudgy? Dominique, what's going on?

Dominique : We'd like to speak to Reginald please. [To Smock] Take it easy, Smock. These people aren't your enemy. They don't even know what's going on.

Clint: [Lowering his foot. To Smock] Yeah, kid. Calm down!

Smock: Calm down? We're about to be swallowed up by this brainless little town, doomed to live our lives endlessly repeating the same brainless day, with the same brain... I mean, brilliant people. [Forces a smile for Tiffany.] Excuse me for just trying to get the ball rolling.

Dominique : Sigh. [Tiredly and in a resigned voice] You know what, Smock. Knock yourself out. Be as rude and aggressive to as many people as you want. It's not going to get us any answers today, but, like you say, we're going to be back again tomorrow, and again, and again, until you all disappear. [Surprisingly harshly] Idiot. [To the others] Come on, let's go in.

[Enter ALL, into the house. FAITH, from last night is here, sitting down reading her book from last night, "The Big Bok of Knowledge". Also here is AUSTIN, dressed in an unusually dandified manner, even for him, sitting at a desk. Both of them look up, and seem genuinely pleased to see DOMINIQUE.]

Faith : Hi Dominique.

Austin : [Gets up from his seat and kisses Dominique's hand, with an extravagent bow] As always, a pleasure.

Clint: [Watching Dominique] Huh? What's going on, babe?

Smock: [Following everyone into the room sulkily. Mutters to herself] I only went and asked a question...

Chastity : [Putting down the tray, turning and smiling to Smock] I think you have me confused with someone else. I am Godmother Grand. [To Dominique] Dominique, my child. It's simply wonderful to see you. [Gestures round the party] Are these your friends?

Smock: Chastity! [Eyeing off the scones. Curiously] How're you feeling?

[Enter CHASTITY, carrying a tray of scones and jam.]

Chastity : Hello. [Pauses and looks round the room at everybody] Oh, if I'd known you had visitors I'd have brought a second batch.

Dominique : Hi Godmother. Yes, this is Clint, Harvey, Alice, Monty and Smock. They are looking for some friends of theirs.

Austin : Lawyer? What on earth are you talking about?

Harvey : [To Austin] Well, this is a rather confusing situation, yourself and Godmother are know to us as Austin and Chastity, and until we came to this town this was the case [Pauses] However this town seems to 'consume' strangers, who then believe that they have lived here. I'm sure Dominique can explain it better than I.

Austin : That is outrageous nonsense. Away with you.

Dominique : No problem, Harvey, I've been through this loads of times. Reg, this morning you thought of a new book to write, "The Barbarian and The Lemming". You are just about to go to the bathroom, you have no intention of going to Alf's talk tonight, and that underwear Faith is missing is in your trouser pocket.

Austin : I - uh. Hm. [Thinks for a moment] Well, you got most of them right, I suppose.

Faith : Hey!

Alice : I bet she didn't read that in her Bok.

Monty : [To the party.] Ahem. Perhaps we should verify that their conversion is complete? [To Austin.] Lucy Angel. Dr. Jerome Trindle. Do either of those names ring a bell, sir?

Austin : I don't know, are they Campanologists? [Titters at his cleverness]

Alice : What's so funny about people living in tents?

Monty : Clearly, given the lack of reaction, no trace of Mr. Sleaze remains... right then, we'd best see about that mine.

Smock: Right behind you, Monty!

Alice : What about them? [Gestures to Austin and Chastity]

Monty : Yes... they can come along, of course, but as they're already... ah... entrapped, they're liable to find themselves blockaded in similar fashion. [Leads the way to the mine.]

Smock: [Making a slightly strained attempt to be nice] Mr Fudgeworthy. Mrs Grand. Would you like to come with us to take a look at the mine?

Harvey : [To Austin and Chastity] It won't take a moment to see if you can get through the barrier, if you can, you may remember who you really are!

Chastity : Of course, dear, I'd be delighted to accompany friends of Dominique's. Now, please call me Godmother, everyone does. [Squeezes Smock's shoulder] Such a nice child. [To Alice] You must be very proud.

Alice : [Rolls her eyes] Very. until then, as

Reginald : [To Smock] Yes, yes certainly I'll come along [Grabs a notebook and pen] I may get some useful information for my latest book. [Checks his cuffs. To the 'audience'] One should write about what one knows, and although I personally detest slumming it with the proles [Glances at Clint, Alice, Monty and Smock] It will be necessary to ensure that my opus is harmonious.

Clint: [Looks at Reginald in disgust] Who woulda ever thought you could be a bigger freak than you used to be? [To the rest of the party] Let's get moving, people.

Smock: [Gives a fake smile] Good-o. [Looks to Monty to lead the way]

Alice : Maybe there's some information in the big Bok?

Faith : [Pulls the book close to her chest] Only I am allowed to consult the Book.

Harvey : [To Faith, munching away at a scone] Don't you ever let anyone else read it?

Monty : [Leading the way.] Come along now, Colonel. We can worry about it when we get bok. Ahem. [Mutters.] Now they've got me doing it too.

Austin : [To Faith, leaning over to her, sneering at Monty] How easily the weak and feeble prole mind adopts the inaccurate terminology of the others [Makes a few notes]

Smock: [With the same forced smile] Excuse me Miss Faith, but would you please consult the book for us, then?

Clint: [Impatiently] A book?! When did a book ever do us any favors?? [Crosses arms and fidgets, waiting for Faith to consult the Bok]

Austin : [Makes some notes] Hmm, Illiteracy appears to be common amongst their kind.

Harvey : [To Clint] Well there is a first time for everthing Private Scar, what! [Munches another scone, gleefully]

Alice : Maybe there's some information in the big Bok?

Faith : [Pulls the book close to her chest] Only I am allowed to consult the Book.

Harvey : [To Faith, munching away at a scone] Don't you ever let anyone else read it?

Monty : [Leading the way.] Come along now, Colonel. We can worry about it when we get bok. Ahem. [Mutters.] Now they've got me doing it too.

Austin : [To Faith, leaning over to her, sneering at Monty] How easily the weak and feeble prole mind adopts the inaccurate terminology of the others [Makes a few notes]

Smock: [With the same forced smile] Excuse me Miss Faith, but would you please consult the book for us, then?

Clint: [Impatiently] A book?! When did a book ever do us any favors?? [Crosses arms and fidgets, waiting for Faith to consult the Bok]

Austin : [Makes some notes] Hmm, Illiteracy appears to be common amongst their kind.

Harvey : [To Clint] Well there is a first time for everthing Private Scar, what! [Munches another scone, gleefully]

Faith : Indeed, Reginald, indeed. On what matter would you like me to consult the book?

Smock: Um... Does it say anything about Metaplasia or the mine? Or about endlessly repeating the same day?

Faith : [Thumbs through a few pages] It says that Metaplasia is a nice small, quiet town, populated by interesting people, including a wonderful writer, a superb ballet dancer and the cleverest girl in the Realms. [Flicks through some more] The mine is on old abandoned gold mine, that is supposed to be haunted, and [flicks through another few] oh, here we are. Anyone who claims to be stuck in a repeating day is a wrong.

Smock: [Dropping the polite act] Fat lot of good that book is! Let's go check out the haunted mine - sounds much more exciting than hanging around here. [Makes for the door]

Tiffany : [Doing a stretching exercise] What does it say about rude, obnoxious children?

Faith : [Does some reading, doing a few "Ums" and "Ahs"] That they're a pain in the ass.

Alice : Maybe there's some information in the big Bok?

Faith : [Pulls the book close to her chest] Only I am allowed to consult the Book.

Harvey : [To Faith, munching away at a scone] Don't you ever let anyone else read it?

Monty : [Leading the way.] Come along now, Colonel. We can worry about it when we get bok. Ahem. [Mutters.] Now they've got me doing it too.

Austin : [To Faith, leaning over to her, sneering at Monty] How easily the weak and feeble prole mind adopts the inaccurate terminology of the others [Makes a few notes]

Smock: [With the same forced smile] Excuse me Miss Faith, but would you please consult the book for us, then?

Clint: [Impatiently] A book?! When did a book ever do us any favors?? [Crosses arms and fidgets, waiting for Faith to consult the Bok]

Austin : [Makes some notes] Hmm, Illiteracy appears to be common amongst their kind.

Harvey : [To Clint] Well there is a first time for everthing Private Scar, what! [Munches another scone, gleefully]

Faith : Indeed, Reginald, indeed. On what matter would you like me to consult the book?

Smock: Um... Does it say anything about Metaplasia or the mine? Or about endlessly repeating the same day?

Faith : [Thumbs through a few pages] It says that Metaplasia is a nice small, quiet town, populated by interesting people, including a wonderful writer, a superb ballet dancer and the cleverest girl in the Realms. [Flicks through some more] The mine is on old abandoned gold mine, that is supposed to be haunted, and [flicks through another few] oh, here we are. Anyone who claims to be stuck in a repeating day is a wrong.

Smock: [Dropping the polite act] Fat lot of good that book is! Let's go check out the haunted mine - sounds much more exciting than hanging around here. [Makes for the door]

Tiffany : [Doing a stretching exercise] What does it say about rude, obnoxious children?

Faith : [Does some reading, doing a few "Ums" and "Ahs"] That they're a pain in the ass.

Austin : [To Tiffany] One cannot blame a prole for being a prole my dear!

Harvey : [To Austin] I see that you haven't changed one bit Private Sleaze!

Austin : [To Harvey, ignoring the 'Private Sleaze', momentarily smirking as he checks his nails] Power without abuse loses it's charm somewhat.

Smock: [To Austin] You sure are going the right way for some abuse!

Clint: [To Smock, impressed] You're all right, kid!

Smock: [Beams at Clint.] I'll take all right over a-okay any day.

Harvey : [To Smock] What? Take cover! [Looks around, momentarily confused, smiles] Ahh, a bit less japery when on a mission Cadet Smock, heh! [Exit DOMINIQUE party, including AUSTIN and CHASTITY, heading towards the mine entrance. It is wide enough for two to walk abreast.]

Alice : [Peers into the mine] Right. Now -

[Enter ALF GRAND, giving a friendly wave and a smile.]

Alf : Hello! Hello! I'm Alf Grand, remember, Godmother's husband, and the one giving the lecture on punctuality tonight. Can I be of assistance?

Smock: [To Alf] Yeah - do you know what's down there?

Alf : Nothing, really. It's just an old abandoned mine.

Smock: Faith says it's supposed to be haunted. Do you have anything we can use to light it up?

Alice : [Takes out a torch] This will do. [Tries and fails to light it a few times] Hm. [Fiddles with the bottom of it and tries again, causing a huge flame to leap up and nearly burn everyone] Ay! [Gets it back under control again] Right. That's better.

Austin : [To Alf] What kind of a mine is this, [To Faith, glancing at Alice] Best to check that it is not a coal mine, before she burns us all to death!

Alf : Why, Reginald, you know that it's a gold mine! [To the party] Are you prospectors?

Alice : [Smiles sweetly at Austin] It's unlikely we'll find any treasure in there that's as precious to the treasures we've found here.

Austin : [To Alf] No, not at all. [Gestures to the party] These fetid proles are under the delusion that I [Pauses for effect] am an associate of theirs! [Shakes his head in disbelief. Looking at Clint. To Alf] I mean, whatever next! [To Alf] But you may be correct, they may wish to try and find gold in the mine. [Looks at the party in a carefree manner]

Harvey : [Oicking some pocket fluff off and munching on a golden honey eyed locust] Indeed dear niece! A veritable culinary treasure trove!

Austin : [Makes some notes, muttering] Appears to have some, albeit crude, appreciation of the arts ...

Clint: [To Alice] Well, he's pointier and shinier than any diamond, that's for sure.

Smock: [Looking at Austin] Should we be glad that he won't last as long? [To Alice] Lead the way?

Austin : [Looking around, grimacing at the dirt. Makes some notes, muttering] Appear to believe that they may find diamonds in a gold mine [Shakes his head sadly. To Dominique] This may turn out to be a rather dull trip after all. [Looking at Clint] Not suprising really.

Alice : We already have our diamond, Aus-reginald. Come on, Smock, let's find some treasure.

Dominique : [Takes each of Clint and Austin by the arm, with the result that the three can just barely fit down the passageway] Oh, come now, Reg! No trip with you could possibly be dull, don't you agree, Lumpy?

Smock: [Eyes lighting up] Yeah! [Grins excitedly at Alice] I bet there's a whole abandoned cache just waiting to be found!

Clint: [Scowling at Austin's presence on the other side of Dominique. To Dominique, with a sexy growl] No ride anyway, if you know what I mean!

Austin : [To Dominique, nodding towards Clint and the are Dominiue holds] Eeeww! Have you seen how dirty that one is? If they want riches they should simply refine the oil from that one's head! [To Dominique whispering] I hope your medical insurance is up to date, you could catch something really nasty!

Dominique : [Holds up Clint's arm] I already have.

Alice : Careful Smock, there could be smugglers or strangers with beards around.

Smock: Even better - there could be monsters! Then it would be like a real adventure, and you guys could smash them to smitherines and steal their hoardes! That's what real heroes do all the time!

Clint: [Wiggles his eyebrows at Dominique] You're one to talk, woman! [To Alice] Pipe down, Bimbo! Isn't the kid a little young to hear about your sex fantasies?

Smock: [To Alf] Yeah - do you know what's down there?

Alf : Nothing, really. It's just an old abandoned mine.

Smock: Faith says it's supposed to be haunted. Do you have anything we can use to light it up?

Alice : [Takes out a torch] This will do. [Tries and fails to light it a few times] Hm. [Fiddles with the bottom of it and tries again, causing a huge flame to leap up and nearly burn everyone] Ay! [Gets it back under control again] Right. That's better.

Austin : [To Alf] What kind of a mine is this, [To Faith, glancing at Alice] Best to check that it is not a coal mine, before she burns us all to death!

Alf : Why, Reginald, you know that it's a gold mine! [To the party] Are you prospectors?

Alice : [Smiles sweetly at Austin] It's unlikely we'll find any treasure in there that's as precious to the treasures we've found here.

Austin : [To Alf] No, not at all. [Gestures to the party] These fetid proles are under the delusion that I [Pauses for effect] am an associate of theirs! [Shakes his head in disbelief. Looking at Clint. To Alf] I mean, whatever next! [To Alf] But you may be correct, they may wish to try and find gold in the mine. [Looks at the party in a carefree manner]

Harvey : [Oicking some pocket fluff off and munching on a golden honey eyed locust] Indeed dear niece! A veritable culinary treasure trove!

Austin : [Makes some notes, muttering] Appears to have some, albeit crude, appreciation of the arts ...

Clint: [To Alice] Well, he's pointier and shinier than any diamond, that's for sure.

Smock: [Looking at Austin] Should we be glad that he won't last as long? [To Alice] Lead the way?

Austin : [Looking around, grimacing at the dirt. Makes some notes, muttering] Appear to believe that they may find diamonds in a gold mine [Shakes his head sadly. To Dominique] This may turn out to be a rather dull trip after all. [Looking at Clint] Not suprising really.

Alice : We already have our diamond, Aus-reginald. Come on, Smock, let's find some treasure.

Dominique : [Takes each of Clint and Austin by the arm, with the result that the three can just barely fit down the passageway] Oh, come now, Reg! No trip with you could possibly be dull, don't you agree, Lumpy?

Smock: [Eyes lighting up] Yeah! [Grins excitedly at Alice] I bet there's a whole abandoned cache just waiting to be found!

Clint: [Scowling at Austin's presence on the other side of Dominique. To Dominique, with a sexy growl] No ride anyway, if you know what I mean!

Austin : [To Dominique, nodding towards Clint and the are Dominiue holds] Eeeww! Have you seen how dirty that one is? If they want riches they should simply refine the oil from that one's head! [To Dominique whispering] I hope your medical insurance is up to date, you could catch something really nasty!

Dominique : [Holds up Clint's arm] I already have.

Alice : Careful Smock, there could be smugglers or strangers with beards around.

Smock: Even better - there could be monsters! Then it would be like a real adventure, and you guys could smash them to smitherines and steal their hoardes! That's what real heroes do all the time!

Clint: [Wiggles his eyebrows at Dominique] You're one to talk, woman! [To Alice] Pipe down, Bimbo! Isn't the kid a little young to hear about your sex fantasies?

Chastity : [Giving a patronising smile to Smock] I think you'll find that [emphasis] real heroes can be found in the home, child. [To Alice] You should really stop giving her so many sweets, she so hyperactive.

Clint: [To Chastity] What that kid needs is a firm hand. Maybe you could take her under you wing, straighten her out? [smirks at Smock]

Chastity : [To Clint] I don't think I should be undermining the child's natural authority figure. [To Alice] Isn't that so? She's should look to you for the wrongs and rights.

Alice : [Gives Clint a withering look] Well, there's certainly one child who needs straightening out.

Alice : Yes, I suppose I am the natural authority figure in the party, but you know these kids today with their NTV and cheese and porn.

Smock: You don't have to fight over it - you can all be my role models! [Smiles ever so sweetly. Boldly,] Now lets go find us a treasure trove!

Chastity : [Blanches. To Alice] I most certainly do not know! I can see that the smelly gentleman had a point indeed. [Takes Smocks hand] I watch you, dear, come on. [Continues down the tunnel]

[Book V, Act III, Scene IV. The Entrance to Metaplasia. ALICE, CLINT, HARVEY, SMOCK and MONTY are here, and it is now early evening. LEON and CHASTITY are also here, further into the town, talking together. LEON notices the party and turns to them.]

Leon : Bark! Oh, it's you.

Alice : [Confused] Huh? What just happened there?

Dominique : If only! Now, usually it's somewhere around here that -

Smock: Grrr. This is getting old. [To Leon] So you recognise us this time?

Leon : Of course! I met you this morning, before you rudely left Godmother in the mine.

Smock: We didn't leave her there on purpose! What about Dominique? Is she still around?

Leon : Of course. I saw her just a while ago, asking if you were still around.

Alice : Why were you asking if we were still around?

Chastity : Probably because you all disappeared after the torch got blown out in the mine. It was most rude of you to just run off deserting us there, especially as you'd invited us along.

Smock: You don't have to fight over it - you can all be my role models! [Smiles ever so sweetly. Boldly,] Now lets go find us a treasure trove!

Chastity : [Blanches. To Alice] I most certainly do not know! I can see that the smelly gentleman had a point indeed. [Takes Smocks hand] I watch you, dear, come on. [Continues down the tunnel]

[Book V, Act III, Scene IV. The Entrance to Metaplasia. ALICE, CLINT, HARVEY, SMOCK and MONTY are here, and it is now early evening. LEON and CHASTITY are also here, further into the town, talking together. LEON notices the party and turns to them.]

Leon : Bark! Oh, it's you.

Alice : [Confused] Huh? What just happened there?

Dominique : If only! Now, usually it's somewhere around here that -

Smock: Grrr. This is getting old. [To Leon] So you recognise us this time?

Leon : Of course! I met you this morning, before you rudely left Godmother in the mine.

Smock: We didn't leave her there on purpose! What about Dominique? Is she still around?

Leon : Of course. I saw her just a while ago, asking if you were still around.

Alice : Why were you asking if we were still around?

Chastity : Probably because you all disappeared after the torch got blown out in the mine. It was most rude of you to just run off deserting us there, especially as you'd invited us along.

Alice : Huh? [To the others] What just happened here?

Austin : [Saunters up] As if! [Sighs] Returned for more childish pranks?

Monty : Perhaps, sir, you could tell us what you remember happening? We are rather confused.

Austin : [To Monty, sneeringly] Hmm, a confused prole. [Ponders Monty for a second] I did not expect the more fundamental level of incompetence that you exhibited. [Makes some notes, chuckles] the enlightening prole! [Smirks at his little oxy-moron] or should that be unenlightning prole [smikrs again, makes a note. Sobers up with show of generosity. To Monty] We wnet down into the mine, the torch went [Double finger quotes] "out", you lot ran away, leaving us, your guests, to exit the mine by ourselves, in the dark .

Chastity : [To Monty] Or at least you weren't there by the time we managed to light another torch.

Harvey : I can assure you, we most certainly did not run away!

Clint: We sure as hell didn't! What the hell is going here?!

Leon : They just told you. The torch went out, and you disappeared. Pretty rude. [Gives them a wink] I like it! Want some fish? [Holds up his very big fish]

Harvey : [Steps away from the fish] I say sir, do be so good as to desist from flapping that fish around, what! Now, what's this about, eh? I certainly don't remember the torch going out and am even more certain that this troop did not run away!

Harvey : I don't know where we went...here! Just now, and I can't remember anything that happened in between the mine and now!

Austin : Then where did you go? How do you explain your sudden disappearance?

Austin : So how can you be sure that you didn't run away? Screaming like a coward? In a girlishly high voice? As though a big scary spider frightened you?

Harvey : [Puffs himself up angrily] Because sir, I have never screamed like a coward, in a girlishly high voice, as though a big scary spider frightened me in my life! And never intend to either, by gad!

Clint: [To Austin] But enough about your last date. That mine got us all thrown outta whack, so maybe we need to blow it up or something.

Austin : [Amused] Then how do you scream?

Leon : Blow up the mine? Why? How? When?

Monty : To backtrack slightly, Alice was carrying the torch at the time darkness descended upon you. And you heard no sounds of our evacuation, your attempts at banter notwithstanding. To our perspective, Dominique was saying that it was 'usually around here that' - and then, quite abruptly, we were standing here, apparently some time later in your perception. This would suggest some variant of teleportation... ahem. If I may inquire, where is Dominique now?

Smock: Well, I reckon we done walked into the barrier thing that's meant to be surronding this town and it spat us back out where we started from. But I bet Dominique knows most about it. And besides, what happened to her? [To Chastity] Did she disappear in the mine too?

Leon : Dominique is in her house. Or, at least, she was about ten minutes ago.

Monty : Right, then. We'd best go see her. [Glances at the dusk sky.] Quickly. [Leads the way.]

Smock: Yeah! [Trots along behind Monty]

Austin : [To Monty] What's the big hurry? You have already claimed that we all [Gestures to the town] are in some kind of a continuous time loop.

Monty : [Not stopping, calls back.] Because we're getting caught up in it ourselves, sir!

Smock: [Still following Monty] Like you did, Austin. Before you turned into Fudgeworthy.

Alice : [Watching the two head away] Should we follow them?

Leon : If you like, you can take a look at my fish? [Holds his fish out to Alice]

Alice : Let's go to Dominique's.

[The rest of the group, ALL except LEON, start to slowly follow.]

Monty : [Upon reaching Dominique's residence, and assuming that it is not yet in flames, knocks on the door if it is shut, or calls out a greeting if it is open.]

Smock: [Bustling her way into the house, inadvertently pushing Monty into Dominique. To Dominique] So what happened?

[The door is shut, and the house is fine. DOMINIQUE opens the door.]

Dominique : Ah! There you are! I was wondering when I'd see you again.

Monty : [Reorients himself and assists Dominique in gentlemanly fashion in regaining her own equilibrium.] My apologies, Dominique. Children these days are rather pushy. Ahem. We seem to have been transported away from you in the mines at the point that you were stating that something was right about there. And reappeared some time later, outside of town.

Dominique : Well, that one is anyway. That's what always happens when you try to get through the shield. People almost always reappear where they first came in, and I usually appear here.

Smock: I told ya! [To Dominique] So how come you appear here? How did you get to this town in the first place?

Monty : [To Dominique.] They almost always reappear where they first came in? Sometimes, those other than yourself reappear somewhere else? Or were you referring to yourself as the sole known exception to that case?

Austin : [To Monty] Well you calimed that I came here with you, but I had to walk back out of the mine. Nothing exceptional about that!

Alice : Other than the fact that you walked, rather than demanding a carriage be sent in after you!

Dominique : Yes, sometimes other people appear elsewhere. [Looks at a clock] It'll be time soon.

Smock: So do you think we should try to stop the fire?

Monty : From what Dominique has said, it's rather foreordained. Ah... Dominique, I'm sorry to ask something like this, but have you ever endeavored to end your life by other means during these repeating days?

Austin : [After Monty's question] As charming as the reaper himself. [Looks at the house] Perhaps if we burned the house down now, so that it can't burn down later with Dominique inside.

Dominique : It's okay, Lumpy, that's a fair question. I have, Monty, and always end up back here. [Nods at Austin] Good idea, Reg, although any time I've tried to avoid it something's happened.

Clint: [Glares at Monty] What the hell is wrong with you?!

Clint: [To Dominique, with a gleam in his eyes] How about I take you away for a little private time, get you outta here. Ever tried something like that?

Dominique : [Looks down at Clint's crotch] Little Private time? I'm sure I've never tried anything quite like that!

Clint: [Wiggles his eyebrows and flashes Dominique a cheesy smile] More like the Big General [cheesy smile wavers as he realizes that wasn't a terribly clever name but keeps on smiling hopefully and invitingly].

Monty : Please, Mr. Scar. Control your base instincts. Especially considering what sort of figurine you might end up as if you don't. Ahem. To bring back the earlier point, however... perhaps we might disassemble the house during the next... ah... cycle? I doubt that there's enough time for doing so tonight, and setting it aflame would doubtless result in Dominique somehow burning down along with it.

Smock: Couldn't we just hang around and get her outta here once it starts?

Clint: How about we blow up the mine? That was a good idea, you know!

Austin : [To Clint, smirking] Does the little private have a large quantity of explosives. No, I didn't think so. Anyway, I thought you said that Dominique looked dead on the floor before the fire had reached her? That sounds more like murder to me. [Looks at Clint with suspicion]

Clint: [To Austin] Big General! And, yeah, she looked dead, but why would I kill her?! I want to screw her! Good point, though. [To Dominique] You didn't off yourself last night, by any chance?

Monty : [Sighs.] Well, the only other potential lead is the unusually knowledgeable book which seems to be lurking about town, so the idea of defending Dominique seems like the best solution given how little time we have remaining. Perhaps if we were to all go outside?

Smock: [To Austin] When we were trying to save her, you were the only one not helping the the bucket brigade. So maybe it was you who killed her!

Austin : [To Clint] With a charming offer like that, [Emphasis] Big General, I'm suprised Dominique hasn't offed herself already [Adjusts a sleeve. To Smock] Considering the fact that the event has not yet occured your wrath is most nonsensicle.

Smock: Then you accusing Clint is non-, nonse... the same!

Clint: [To Austin, annoyed] All right, genius, what do you think we oughta do?

Monty : Please! Let us maintain a calm demeanor, at least until such time as the fire begins again. [To Dominique.] Would you care to try waiting outside, or would you prefer that we wait to see what transpires in here?

Alice : Well, I think Monty's idea of not having Dominique in the house could be a good way to stop her from burning in the house!

Dominique : [To Austin and Clint] Easy boys. All I remember from the fire each time is that I get overcome by smoke on the way downstairs.

Austin : [Briefly to Smock] What's your name again? [Immediately to Monty and Clint, not leaving time for Smock to answer] Since all of Dominique's attempts to avoid the fire have failed, due to bizzare events, perhaps some form of breathing aparatus would enable Dominique to escape from the fire.

Dominique : Outside is best, I think, Monty. Quite apart from the danger, it's a little cramped in here, what with the [gives Clint a wink] Little General and all.

Chastity : [Peering closely and whincing at the wallpaper] The fire will give you a chance to re-decorate anyway.

Smock: [Scowls at Austin. Goes to open the door] You're so smart Monty!

Monty : [To Smock.] Thank you. [Generally.] If this attempt fails, then during the next go-around we... or whomever of us are left... may attempt the breathing apparatus, an appropriate suggestion if smoke inhalation is the customary cause of fatality. [To Austin.] This assumes, of course, that the materials to create one happen to be about town? [Generally again.] Let's go outside, then. [Leads the way outside.]

[Everyone exits the house, and waits outside for a while, on the same side of the house as DOMINIQUE's bedroom, which she points out to them. After a while, there is a smell of burning, and the party and covered in thick smoke.]

Alice : [Waving it away] Cough! Is that it?

Dominique : No. [Calls out to the next door house] Faith! Can you turn off your oven a moment, please?

[FAITH obviously does so, and the smoke disappears. However, just a few minutes later, flames can be seen in the bedroom window of DOMINIQUE's house.]

Austin : The simplest form of breathing apparatus is, infact, a doubled over scarf, soaked in water and tied over the nose and mouth. [Gets out several white silk handkerchiefs, soaks one in a barrel of rain water and ties it over his nose and mouth in the appropriate fashion. Hand a handkerchief to Dominique and the others] like this.

Smock: [Watching the beginnings of the fire excitedly] This is gonna be great! [To Clint] Not as great as blowing up the mine, of course, but great all the same.

Alice : Uh, what are you doing with so many hankies, Austin?

Dominique : Thanks, Reg, but we probably don't need them since we're outside.

[All the other townspeople come running, clearly surprised to see the party and company just standing around looking up at the window.]

Alf : What's happening?

Monty : [To Smock.] It would not surprise me in the least if the mine ends up destroyed before this is through. [To Dominique.] That mask may be of assistance, but please do be careful not to replace death by smoke inhalation with death by drowning...

Monty : [To Dominique.] Nevertheless, it might be a good idea just to be on the safe side. [To Alf.] A fire. Fortunately, Dominique is safely outside.

Alf : I see.

[Without warning, the entire wall of the house falls over and lands on everyone standing there.]

On 30/08/05, Conor Ryan wrote:

[Book V, Act III, Scene VI. The Entrance to Metaplasia. ALICE, CLINT, MONTY and SMOCK are here, walking in. It is now daylight, and it is immediately clear that Dominick's is undamaged. Enter LEON FACHE.]

Leon : Bark! Bark! What are you doing here?

Alice : Sigh.

Smock: Oh no! [Clearly quite distressed] We lost Harvey!

Clint: [Furious] Damn! Why couldn't we have lost the egghead?!

[Chastity appears from round a corner, carrying a tray of scones]

Chastity : [In a warm friendly manner] What was that? You've lost your eggy-bread. [Holds out the tray] Here, maybe a fresh baked scone will tide you by. [Smiles] Welcome to Metaplasia.

Leon : What is going on here? Who are you people?

Alice : [Also looking pretty annoyed] Look! Can you just leave us alone a moment? [Thinks for a second] Uh, we're the Fish Police. We've heard that Tweedlebush and Tweedletony are planning to steal a fish from someone called Leon Fache. Do you know him? He needs to be warned.

Leon : Scare bleu! [Takes out a huge carving knife] I'm going to kill them!

Alice : [Smiles to herself for a moment, before turning defensively to the party] Hey! I'm worried too, but that doesn't mean we can't have some fun!

Austin : [To Monty, sneeringly] Hmm, a confused prole. [Ponders Monty for a second] I did not expect the more fundamental level of incompetence that you exhibited. [Makes some notes, chuckles] the enlightening prole! [Smirks at his little oxy-moron] or should that be unenlightning prole [smikrs again, makes a note. Sobers up with show of generosity. To Monty] We wnet down into the mine, the torch went [Double finger quotes] "out", you lot ran away, leaving us, your guests, to exit the mine by ourselves, in the dark .

Chastity : [To Monty] Or at least you weren't there by the time we managed to light another torch.

Harvey : I can assure you, we most certainly did not run away!

Clint: We sure as hell didn't! What the hell is going here?!

Leon : They just told you. The torch went out, and you disappeared. Pretty rude. [Gives them a wink] I like it! Want some fish? [Holds up his very big fish]

Harvey : [Steps away from the fish] I say sir, do be so good as to desist from flapping that fish around, what! Now, what's this about, eh? I certainly don't remember the torch going out and am even more certain that this troop did not run away!

Harvey : I don't know where we went...here! Just now, and I can't remember anything that happened in between the mine and now!

Austin : Then where did you go? How do you explain your sudden disappearance?

Austin : So how can you be sure that you didn't run away? Screaming like a coward? In a girlishly high voice? As though a big scary spider frightened you?

Harvey : [Puffs himself up angrily] Because sir, I have never screamed like a coward, in a girlishly high voice, as though a big scary spider frightened me in my life! And never intend to either, by gad!

Clint: [To Austin] But enough about your last date. That mine got us all thrown outta whack, so maybe we need to blow it up or something.

Austin : [Amused] Then how do you scream?

Leon : Blow up the mine? Why? How? When?

Monty : To backtrack slightly, Alice was carrying the torch at the time darkness descended upon you. And you heard no sounds of our evacuation, your attempts at banter notwithstanding. To our perspective, Dominique was saying that it was 'usually around here that' - and then, quite abruptly, we were standing here, apparently some time later in your perception. This would suggest some variant of teleportation... ahem. If I may inquire, where is Dominique now?

Smock: Well, I reckon we done walked into the barrier thing that's meant to be surronding this town and it spat us back out where we started from. But I bet Dominique knows most about it. And besides, what happened to her? [To Chastity] Did she disappear in the mine too?

Leon : Dominique is in her house. Or, at least, she was about ten minutes ago.

Monty : Right, then. We'd best go see her. [Glances at the dusk sky.] Quickly. [Leads the way.]

Smock: Yeah! [Trots along behind Monty]

Monty : [Upon reaching Dominique's residence, and assuming that it is not yet in flames, knocks on the door if it is shut, or calls out a greeting if it is open.]

Smock: [Bustling her way into the house, inadvertently pushing Monty into Dominique. To Dominique] So what happened?

[The door is shut, and the house is fine. DOMINIQUE opens the door.]

Dominique : Ah! There you are! I was wondering when I'd see you again.

Monty : [Reorients himself and assists Dominique in gentlemanly fashion in regaining her own equilibrium.] My apologies, Dominique. Children these days are rather pushy. Ahem. We seem to have been transported away from you in the mines at the point that you were stating that something was right about there. And reappeared some time later, outside of town.

Dominique : Well, that one is anyway. That's what always happens when you try to get through the shield. People almost always reappear where they first came in, and I usually appear here.

Smock: I told ya! [To Dominique] So how come you appear here? How did you get to this town in the first place?

Monty : [To Dominique.] They almost always reappear where they first came in? Sometimes, those other than yourself reappear somewhere else? Or were you referring to yourself as the sole known exception to that case?

Austin : [To Monty] Well you calimed that I came here with you, but I had to walk back out of the mine. Nothing exceptional about that!

Alice : Other than the fact that you walked, rather than demanding a carriage be sent in after you!

Dominique : Yes, sometimes other people appear elsewhere. [Looks at a clock] It'll be time soon.

Smock: So do you think we should try to stop the fire?

Monty : From what Dominique has said, it's rather foreordained. Ah... Dominique, I'm sorry to ask something like this, but have you ever endeavored to end your life by other means during these repeating days?

Austin : [After Monty's question] As charming as the reaper himself. [Looks at the house] Perhaps if we burned the house down now, so that it can't burn down later with Dominique inside.

Dominique : It's okay, Lumpy, that's a fair question. I have, Monty, and always end up back here. [Nods at Austin] Good idea, Reg, although any time I've tried to avoid it something's happened.

Clint: [Glares at Monty] What the hell is wrong with you?!

Clint: [To Dominique, with a gleam in his eyes] How about I take you away for a little private time, get you outta here. Ever tried something like that?

Dominique : [Looks down at Clint's crotch] Little Private time? I'm sure I've never tried anything quite like that!

Clint: [Wiggles his eyebrows and flashes Dominique a cheesy smile] More like the Big General [cheesy smile wavers as he realizes that wasn't a terribly clever name but keeps on smiling hopefully and invitingly].

Monty : Please, Mr. Scar. Control your base instincts. Especially considering what sort of figurine you might end up as if you don't. Ahem. To bring back the earlier point, however... perhaps we might disassemble the house during the next... ah... cycle? I doubt that there's enough time for doing so tonight, and setting it aflame would doubtless result in Dominique somehow burning down along with it.

Smock: Couldn't we just hang around and get her outta here once it starts?

Clint: How about we blow up the mine? That was a good idea, you know!

Austin : [To Clint, smirking] Does the little private have a large quantity of explosives. No, I didn't think so. Anyway, I thought you said that Dominique looked dead on the floor before the fire had reached her? That sounds more like murder to me. [Looks at Clint with suspicion]

Clint: [To Austin] Big General! And, yeah, she looked dead, but why would I kill her?! I want to screw her! Good point, though. [To Dominique] You didn't off yourself last night, by any chance?

Monty : [Sighs.] Well, the only other potential lead is the unusually knowledgeable book which seems to be lurking about town, so the idea of defending Dominique seems like the best solution given how little time we have remaining. Perhaps if we were to all go outside?

Smock: [To Austin] When we were trying to save her, you were the only one not helping the the bucket brigade. So maybe it was you who killed her!

Austin : [To Clint] With a charming offer like that, [Emphasis] Big General, I'm suprised Dominique hasn't offed herself already [Adjusts a sleeve. To Smock] Considering the fact that the event has not yet occured your wrath is most nonsensicle.

Smock: Then you accusing Clint is non-, nonse... the same!

Clint: [To Austin, annoyed] All right, genius, what do you think we oughta do?

Monty : Please! Let us maintain a calm demeanor, at least until such time as the fire begins again. [To Dominique.] Would you care to try waiting outside, or would you prefer that we wait to see what transpires in here?

Alice : Well, I think Monty's idea of not having Dominique in the house could be a good way to stop her from burning in the house!

Dominique : [To Austin and Clint] Easy boys. All I remember from the fire each time is that I get overcome by smoke on the way downstairs.

Austin : [Briefly to Smock] What's your name again? [Immediately to Monty and Clint, not leaving time for Smock to answer] Since all of Dominique's attempts to avoid the fire have failed, due to bizzare events, perhaps some form of breathing aparatus would enable Dominique to escape from the fire.

Dominique : Outside is best, I think, Monty. Quite apart from the danger, it's a little cramped in here, what with the [gives Clint a wink] Little General and all.

Chastity : [Peering closely and whincing at the wallpaper] The fire will give you a chance to re-decorate anyway.

Smock: [Scowls at Austin. Goes to open the door] You're so smart Monty!

Monty : [To Smock.] Thank you. [Generally.] If this attempt fails, then during the next go-around we... or whomever of us are left... may attempt the breathing apparatus, an appropriate suggestion if smoke inhalation is the customary cause of fatality. [To Austin.] This assumes, of course, that the materials to create one happen to be about town? [Generally again.] Let's go outside, then. [Leads the way outside.]

[Everyone exits the house, and waits outside for a while, on the same side of the house as DOMINIQUE's bedroom, which she points out to them. After a while, there is a smell of burning, and the party and covered in thick smoke.]

Alice : [Waving it away] Cough! Is that it?

Dominique : No. [Calls out to the next door house] Faith! Can you turn off your oven a moment, please?

[FAITH obviously does so, and the smoke disappears. However, just a few minutes later, flames can be seen in the bedroom window of DOMINIQUE's house.]

Austin : The simplest form of breathing apparatus is, infact, a doubled over scarf, soaked in water and tied over the nose and mouth. [Gets out several white silk handkerchiefs, soaks one in a barrel of rain water and ties it over his nose and mouth in the appropriate fashion. Hand a handkerchief to Dominique and the others] like this.

Smock: [Watching the beginnings of the fire excitedly] This is gonna be great! [To Clint] Not as great as blowing up the mine, of course, but great all the same.

Alice : Uh, what are you doing with so many hankies, Austin?

Dominique : Thanks, Reg, but we probably don't need them since we're outside.

[All the other townspeople come running, clearly surprised to see the party and company just standing around looking up at the window.]

Alf : What's happening?

Monty : [To Smock.] It would not surprise me in the least if the mine ends up destroyed before this is through. [To Dominique.] That mask may be of assistance, but please do be careful not to replace death by smoke inhalation with death by drowning...

Monty : [To Dominique.] Nevertheless, it might be a good idea just to be on the safe side. [To Alf.] A fire. Fortunately, Dominique is safely outside.

Alf : I see.

[Without warning, the entire wall of the house falls over and lands on everyone standing there.]

On 30/08/05, Conor Ryan wrote:

[Book V, Act III, Scene VI. The Entrance to Metaplasia. ALICE, CLINT, MONTY and SMOCK are here, walking in. It is now daylight, and it is immediately clear that Dominick's is undamaged. Enter LEON FACHE.]

Leon : Bark! Bark! What are you doing here?

Alice : Sigh.

Smock: Oh no! [Clearly quite distressed] We lost Harvey!

Clint: [Furious] Damn! Why couldn't we have lost the egghead?!

[Chastity appears from round a corner, carrying a tray of scones]

Chastity : [In a warm friendly manner] What was that? You've lost your eggy-bread. [Holds out the tray] Here, maybe a fresh baked scone will tide you by. [Smiles] Welcome to Metaplasia.

Leon : What is going on here? Who are you people?

Alice : [Also looking pretty annoyed] Look! Can you just leave us alone a moment? [Thinks for a second] Uh, we're the Fish Police. We've heard that Tweedlebush and Tweedletony are planning to steal a fish from someone called Leon Fache. Do you know him? He needs to be warned.

Leon : Scare bleu! [Takes out a huge carving knife] I'm going to kill them!

Alice : [Smiles to herself for a moment, before turning defensively to the party] Hey! I'm worried too, but that doesn't mean we can't have some fun! [Strolling along reading a book, sees the party]

Austin : [Sees Leon pulling out a huge knife and shouting] Excellent, more material for my opus magnum! [Stand to watch, expecting Leon to attack the party]

Leon : [To Austin] Shut up, you idiot! [Runs off]

[Enter DOMINIQUE, who gives a sigh of relief when she sees the party.]

Dominique : There you are! Oh, Harvey's gone?

Austin : [Raises an eyebrow as Leon rushes off. To Dominique] My dear, you know these, erm, people? Perhaps if I give them a gold coin they'll go away. [Looks at the party waiting for a response to his offer]

Alice : Sure. I'll take a gold coin. [Holds out her hand]

Clint: [Also with his hand out to Austin] Me, too, but don't think that means I'm gonna do any fruity business with you, freak.

Chastity : [Quickly puts a fruit scone on Alice's outstretched hand] You'll be better off with one of these, my dear girl.[To Austin] I would have thought you'd have learned not to offer strange girls money in exchange for them doing something after the trouble last time. [To Alice] The press had a field day.

Austin : [To Monty, sneeringly] Hmm, a confused prole. [Ponders Monty for a second] I did not expect the more fundamental level of incompetence that you exhibited. [Makes some notes, chuckles] the enlightening prole! [Smirks at his little oxy-moron] or should that be unenlightning prole [smikrs again, makes a note. Sobers up with show of generosity. To Monty] We wnet down into the mine, the torch went [Double finger quotes] "out", you lot ran away, leaving us, your guests, to exit the mine by ourselves, in the dark .

Chastity : [To Monty] Or at least you weren't there by the time we managed to light another torch.

Harvey : I can assure you, we most certainly did not run away!

Clint: We sure as hell didn't! What the hell is going here?!

Leon : They just told you. The torch went out, and you disappeared. Pretty rude. [Gives them a wink] I like it! Want some fish? [Holds up his very big fish]

Harvey : [Steps away from the fish] I say sir, do be so good as to desist from flapping that fish around, what! Now, what's this about, eh? I certainly don't remember the torch going out and am even more certain that this troop did not run away!

Harvey : I don't know where we went...here! Just now, and I can't remember anything that happened in between the mine and now!

Austin : Then where did you go? How do you explain your sudden disappearance?

Austin : So how can you be sure that you didn't run away? Screaming like a coward? In a girlishly high voice? As though a big scary spider frightened you?

Harvey : [Puffs himself up angrily] Because sir, I have never screamed like a coward, in a girlishly high voice, as though a big scary spider frightened me in my life! And never intend to either, by gad!

Clint: [To Austin] But enough about your last date. That mine got us all thrown outta whack, so maybe we need to blow it up or something.

Austin : [Amused] Then how do you scream?

Leon : Blow up the mine? Why? How? When?

Monty : To backtrack slightly, Alice was carrying the torch at the time darkness descended upon you. And you heard no sounds of our evacuation, your attempts at banter notwithstanding. To our perspective, Dominique was saying that it was 'usually around here that' - and then, quite abruptly, we were standing here, apparently some time later in your perception. This would suggest some variant of teleportation... ahem. If I may inquire, where is Dominique now?

Smock: Well, I reckon we done walked into the barrier thing that's meant to be surronding this town and it spat us back out where we started from. But I bet Dominique knows most about it. And besides, what happened to her? [To Chastity] Did she disappear in the mine too?

Leon : Dominique is in her house. Or, at least, she was about ten minutes ago.

Monty : Right, then. We'd best go see her. [Glances at the dusk sky.] Quickly. [Leads the way.]

Smock: Yeah! [Trots along behind Monty]

Austin : [To Monty] What's the big hurry? You have already claimed that we all [Gestures to the town] are in some kind of a continuous time loop.

Monty : [Not stopping, calls back.] Because we're getting caught up in it ourselves, sir!

Smock: [Still following Monty] Like you did, Austin. Before you turned into Fudgeworthy.

Alice : [Watching the two head away] Should we follow them?

Leon : If you like, you can take a look at my fish? [Holds his fish out to Alice]

Alice : Let's go to Dominique's.

[The rest of the group, ALL except LEON, start to slowly follow.]

Monty : [Upon reaching Dominique's residence, and assuming that it is not yet in flames, knocks on the door if it is shut, or calls out a greeting if it is open.]

Smock: [Bustling her way into the house, inadvertently pushing Monty into Dominique. To Dominique] So what happened?

[The door is shut, and the house is fine. DOMINIQUE opens the door.]

Dominique : Ah! There you are! I was wondering when I'd see you again.

Monty : [Reorients himself and assists Dominique in gentlemanly fashion in regaining her own equilibrium.] My apologies, Dominique. Children these days are rather pushy. Ahem. We seem to have been transported away from you in the mines at the point that you were stating that something was right about there. And reappeared some time later, outside of town.

Dominique : Well, that one is anyway. That's what always happens when you try to get through the shield. People almost always reappear where they first came in, and I usually appear here.

Smock: I told ya! [To Dominique] So how come you appear here? How did you get to this town in the first place?

Monty : [To Dominique.] They almost always reappear where they first came in? Sometimes, those other than yourself reappear somewhere else? Or were you referring to yourself as the sole known exception to that case?

Austin : [To Monty] Well you calimed that I came here with you, but I had to walk back out of the mine. Nothing exceptional about that!

Alice : Other than the fact that you walked, rather than demanding a carriage be sent in after you!

Dominique : Yes, sometimes other people appear elsewhere. [Looks at a clock] It'll be time soon.

Smock: So do you think we should try to stop the fire?

Monty : From what Dominique has said, it's rather foreordained. Ah... Dominique, I'm sorry to ask something like this, but have you ever endeavored to end your life by other means during these repeating days?

Austin : [After Monty's question] As charming as the reaper himself. [Looks at the house] Perhaps if we burned the house down now, so that it can't burn down later with Dominique inside.

Dominique : It's okay, Lumpy, that's a fair question. I have, Monty, and always end up back here. [Nods at Austin] Good idea, Reg, although any time I've tried to avoid it something's happened.

Clint: [Glares at Monty] What the hell is wrong with you?!

Clint: [To Dominique, with a gleam in his eyes] How about I take you away for a little private time, get you outta here. Ever tried something like that?

Dominique : [Looks down at Clint's crotch] Little Private time? I'm sure I've never tried anything quite like that!

Clint: [Wiggles his eyebrows and flashes Dominique a cheesy smile] More like the Big General [cheesy smile wavers as he realizes that wasn't a terribly clever name but keeps on smiling hopefully and invitingly].

Monty : Please, Mr. Scar. Control your base instincts. Especially considering what sort of figurine you might end up as if you don't. Ahem. To bring back the earlier point, however... perhaps we might disassemble the house during the next... ah... cycle? I doubt that there's enough time for doing so tonight, and setting it aflame would doubtless result in Dominique somehow burning down along with it.

Smock: Couldn't we just hang around and get her outta here once it starts?

Clint: How about we blow up the mine? That was a good idea, you know!

Austin : [To Clint, smirking] Does the little private have a large quantity of explosives. No, I didn't think so. Anyway, I thought you said that Dominique looked dead on the floor before the fire had reached her? That sounds more like murder to me. [Looks at Clint with suspicion]

Clint: [To Austin] Big General! And, yeah, she looked dead, but why would I kill her?! I want to screw her! Good point, though. [To Dominique] You didn't off yourself last night, by any chance?

Monty : [Sighs.] Well, the only other potential lead is the unusually knowledgeable book which seems to be lurking about town, so the idea of defending Dominique seems like the best solution given how little time we have remaining. Perhaps if we were to all go outside?

Smock: [To Austin] When we were trying to save her, you were the only one not helping the the bucket brigade. So maybe it was you who killed her!

Austin : [To Clint] With a charming offer like that, [Emphasis] Big General, I'm suprised Dominique hasn't offed herself already [Adjusts a sleeve. To Smock] Considering the fact that the event has not yet occured your wrath is most nonsensicle.

Smock: Then you accusing Clint is non-, nonse... the same!

Clint: [To Austin, annoyed] All right, genius, what do you think we oughta do?

Monty : Please! Let us maintain a calm demeanor, at least until such time as the fire begins again. [To Dominique.] Would you care to try waiting outside, or would you prefer that we wait to see what transpires in here?

Alice : Well, I think Monty's idea of not having Dominique in the house could be a good way to stop her from burning in the house!

Dominique : [To Austin and Clint] Easy boys. All I remember from the fire each time is that I get overcome by smoke on the way downstairs.

Austin : [Briefly to Smock] What's your name again? [Immediately to Monty and Clint, not leaving time for Smock to answer] Since all of Dominique's attempts to avoid the fire have failed, due to bizzare events, perhaps some form of breathing aparatus would enable Dominique to escape from the fire.

Dominique : Outside is best, I think, Monty. Quite apart from the danger, it's a little cramped in here, what with the [gives Clint a wink] Little General and all.

Chastity : [Peering closely and whincing at the wallpaper] The fire will give you a chance to re-decorate anyway.

Smock: [Scowls at Austin. Goes to open the door] You're so smart Monty!

Monty : [To Smock.] Thank you. [Generally.] If this attempt fails, then during the next go-around we... or whomever of us are left... may attempt the breathing apparatus, an appropriate suggestion if smoke inhalation is the customary cause of fatality. [To Austin.] This assumes, of course, that the materials to create one happen to be about town? [Generally again.] Let's go outside, then. [Leads the way outside.]

[Everyone exits the house, and waits outside for a while, on the same side of the house as DOMINIQUE's bedroom, which she points out to them. After a while, there is a smell of burning, and the party and covered in thick smoke.]

Alice : [Waving it away] Cough! Is that it?

Dominique : No. [Calls out to the next door house] Faith! Can you turn off your oven a moment, please?

[FAITH obviously does so, and the smoke disappears. However, just a few minutes later, flames can be seen in the bedroom window of DOMINIQUE's house.]

Austin : The simplest form of breathing apparatus is, infact, a doubled over scarf, soaked in water and tied over the nose and mouth. [Gets out several white silk handkerchiefs, soaks one in a barrel of rain water and ties it over his nose and mouth in the appropriate fashion. Hand a handkerchief to Dominique and the others] like this.

Smock: [Watching the beginnings of the fire excitedly] This is gonna be great! [To Clint] Not as great as blowing up the mine, of course, but great all the same.

Alice : Uh, what are you doing with so many hankies, Austin?

Dominique : Thanks, Reg, but we probably don't need them since we're outside.

[All the other townspeople come running, clearly surprised to see the party and company just standing around looking up at the window.]

Alf : What's happening?

Monty : [To Smock.] It would not surprise me in the least if the mine ends up destroyed before this is through. [To Dominique.] That mask may be of assistance, but please do be careful not to replace death by smoke inhalation with death by drowning...

Monty : [To Dominique.] Nevertheless, it might be a good idea just to be on the safe side. [To Alf.] A fire. Fortunately, Dominique is safely outside.

Alf : I see.

[Without warning, the entire wall of the house falls over and lands on everyone standing there.]

On 30/08/05, Conor Ryan wrote:

[Book V, Act III, Scene VI. The Entrance to Metaplasia. ALICE, CLINT, MONTY and SMOCK are here, walking in. It is now daylight, and it is immediately clear that Dominick's is undamaged. Enter LEON FACHE.]

Leon : Bark! Bark! What are you doing here?

Alice : Sigh.

Smock: Oh no! [Clearly quite distressed] We lost Harvey!

Clint: [Furious] Damn! Why couldn't we have lost the egghead?!

[Chastity appears from round a corner, carrying a tray of scones]

Chastity : [In a warm friendly manner] What was that? You've lost your eggy-bread. [Holds out the tray] Here, maybe a fresh baked scone will tide you by. [Smiles] Welcome to Metaplasia.

Leon : What is going on here? Who are you people?

Alice : [Also looking pretty annoyed] Look! Can you just leave us alone a moment? [Thinks for a second] Uh, we're the Fish Police. We've heard that Tweedlebush and Tweedletony are planning to steal a fish from someone called Leon Fache. Do you know him? He needs to be warned.

Leon : Scare bleu! [Takes out a huge carving knife] I'm going to kill them!

Alice : [Smiles to herself for a moment, before turning defensively to the party] Hey! I'm worried too, but that doesn't mean we can't have some fun! [Strolling along reading a book, sees the party]

Austin : [Sees Leon pulling out a huge knife and shouting] Excellent, more material for my opus magnum! [Stand to watch, expecting Leon to attack the party]

Leon : [To Austin] Shut up, you idiot! [Runs off]

[Enter DOMINIQUE, who gives a sigh of relief when she sees the party.]

Dominique : There you are! Oh, Harvey's gone?

Austin : [Raises an eyebrow as Leon rushes off. To Dominique] My dear, you know these, erm, people? Perhaps if I give them a gold coin they'll go away. [Looks at the party waiting for a response to his offer]

Alice : Sure. I'll take a gold coin. [Holds out her hand]

Clint: [Also with his hand out to Austin] Me, too, but don't think that means I'm gonna do any fruity business with you, freak.

Chastity : [Quickly puts a fruit scone on Alice's outstretched hand] You'll be better off with one of these, my dear girl.[To Austin] I would have thought you'd have learned not to offer strange girls money in exchange for them doing something after the trouble last time. [To Alice] The press had a field day.

Alice : [Looks at the scone distastefully] What do you mean? Like a carnival or something?

Austin : [To Alice] I think he means carnal, not carnival [To Chastity] I really have no idea what you mean Godmother.

Chastity : [Glances at the party] Well I'm not going to discuss the matter in front of newcomers to the town. First impressions and all that. [To the party] And what brings you to our little town?

Clint: [To Chastity] Family vacation. How long you lived here?

Dominique : They're friends of mine, Godmother.

Chastity : [Brightly] Oh good, we can always do with new faces round here. You aren't leaving anytime soon I hope. [Aside to Dominique] Are they here about that Adam?

Alice : [Spewing up some scone] What? [Throws the uneaten part of the scone at Austin, hitting him with it] What the hell is your problem?

Austin : [Goes quite pale as Dominique says 'friends'. Sidles over to Dominique, whispers quite clearly in her ear] 'Friends'? But they're proles! [Look at that one gestures to Clint] He's filthy! [Gestures to Alice] A prostitute! [Gestures to Monty, then Smock] I hate to think what's going on there, but he doesn't look like he's a member if her family. [Straightens up and ponders] Perhaps that's a good thing.

Dominique : [Looks down for a moment] No, they're not there about Adam.

Alice : [Through huge mouthful of fruity scone] Who's Adam?

Clint: [Catches the half-eaten scone as it bounces off of Austin and begins munching on it. To Alice] He's a bigger prick everytime we come back!! [To Austin] Gotta bug up your ass, lawyer?!

Austin : [Dusting himself off as he grimaces in digust] Please tell me that this is some elaborate, yet poor taste joke, Dominique.

Dominique : [Holds a hand up to Clint and Alice] Just - just give me a moment.

[DOMINIQUE takes CHASTITY and AUSTIN aside, and starts talking quietly to them.]

Alice : Who's Adam, Clint?

Clint: [To Alice, shrugs] Maybe Harv? Look, we'd better figure this thing out, and quick. We're down to the most worthless members of the party and me--uh, us--so we're gonna have to put our heads together and come up with a brilliant plan. Now, think, Bimbo, think! How do we bust outta this loop?! The mine, the figurines, and Dominique all have something to do with each other, right? [Snaps his fingers] I got it! Let's put the figurines in the mine before we blow it up!! [Looks pleased]

Alice : [Folds her arms, unimpressed at Clint's remarks] What [with a look of disgust] mine?

Clint: [To Alice, impatiently, gesturing in the general direction of the mine] You know, the mine! What's gotten into you, Bimbo?!

Alice : Maybe you should get some of the worthless party members to help you with that?

Dominique : [Turns away from Austin and Chastity, who are discussing something between themselves] Right. What's up?

Alf : [Turns a corner, speaking to someone out of view] Yes, ten o clock and not a minute later! Ten! [Turns and sees everyone] Oh hello all. [Looks at the party] Goodness, strangers in the town, and just in time to hear a wonderful lecture on punctuality this evening at ten! Yes, ten. Always good to expand the mind with new knowlege! [Stands there patting the pockets of his waistcoat for a moment or two, looking around at the group]

Alice : [Face drops] Oh no! He couldn't have become one of the cool ones?

Smock : Harvey! [Runs to Harvey and gives him a huge hug]

Harvery : [Recoils in shock] Urgh, some sort of urchin! [Holds her at arms length] And I'm sorry, erm, miss, but you have me confused with someone else. Er, shoo! [Looks to Chastity for help]

Alice : Come on, Smock. Remember what's going on. You better leave him alone.

[SMOCK slowly lets go, as DOMINIQUE has a quick word with HARVEY.]

Harvey : [Looks at Dominique, eyebrows raised before turning to Chastity] Ah, hello Godmother, I see you've been baking up a storm! Make sure to leave enough for tonights lecture, though! Learning is hungry work! [Takes a scone and nibbles at it]

Smock : [To Dominique] Who's Adam?

Alf : [Turns a corner, speaking to someone out of view] Yes, ten o clock and not a minute later! Ten! [Turns and sees everyone] Oh hello all. [Looks at the party] Goodness, strangers in the town, and just in time to hear a wonderful lecture on punctuality this evening at ten! Yes, ten. Always good to expand the mind with new knowlege! [Stands there patting the pockets of his waistcoat for a moment or two, looking around at the group]

Alice : [Face drops] Oh no! He couldn't have become one of the cool ones?

Smock : Harvey! [Runs to Harvey and gives him a huge hug]

Harvery : [Recoils in shock] Urgh, some sort of urchin! [Holds her at arms length] And I'm sorry, erm, miss, but you have me confused with someone else. Er, shoo! [Looks to Chastity for help]

Alice : Come on, Smock. Remember what's going on. You better leave him alone.

[SMOCK slowly lets go, as DOMINIQUE has a quick word with HARVEY.]

Harvey : [Looks at Dominique, eyebrows raised before turning to Chastity] Ah, hello Godmother, I see you've been baking up a storm! Make sure to leave enough for tonights lecture, though! Learning is hungry work! [Takes a scone and nibbles at it]

Smock : [To Dominique] Who's Adam?

Harvey : [Nods at Austin] Reginald, are these people all friends of yours and Dominiques?

Monty : [Sighs and mutters.] Really, this is all getting quite out of hand. [Quietly to Dominique.] Two further questions on an earlier subject if I may? First, your own demise apparently has no effect upon the cycle, but what about those of others? Second, have you any idea what happens to those who are 'shuffled out', shall we say? Are they perhaps returned to the normal world, or to another place entirely? This situation is perhaps not dissimilar to certain traps for the unfortunate that have been encountered previously.

Dominique : [To Harvey] Yes, Alf, they're friends. [Nods at Monty] I have yet to find anything that affects the cycle, and, as for those who get shuffled out, I don't know, but I suspect it's not pleasant. [Looks at Smock] Adam's an old friend.

Alice : Now, in what sense of the word was he a friend? In the sense of some loser who lends your boyfriend his carriage to take you out? Or in the sense of well, [seductive raise of her eyebrows] friend?

Dominique : More in the sense of sitting across from your house all day and night with camera, and stealing all your shoes and underwear.

Chastity : I'm not surprised that poor Dominique doesn't want to talk about it. [pats Dominique supportively on the shoulder] He seemed such a nice chap, until he got violent with the poor girl. The had to be thrown out of the town. [Shakes her head] Language like you've never heard!

Monty : [Ponders.] What about altering other matters of the day? Actually arranging for punctual attendance at the lecture, that sort of thing? Aside from that, the only thing we have left as a lead is that suspiciously knowledgeable bok. Ahem. I mean book.

Monty : [Eyebrows rise.] Oh? Did this happen, perchance, shortly before the fire, Dominique?

Dominique : [Clearly uncomfortable talking about this] A few weeks, Monty. Maybe a fortnight.

Austin : [To Dominique, alarmed] Did you manage to retrieve your shoes, underwear and the photos?

Dominique : Most of them. ### At some stage, the party will probably want to try out another theory, e.g. if they destroy ### the figurines or the mine. When that happens we'll skip right to the end of the day, although ### there will be time to discuss where everyone should be. If you want to do something in ### particular, and will be afk, just make sure to let the rest of us know in a comment what ### to do if you're away. There will be plenty of warning before we skip forward.

Monty : What was his profession, if I may ask? Any connections with sorcerous types?

Clint: [To Dominique] And what of your stuff didn't ya get back? The panties? He some kinda cross-dressing freak. Or some loser who can't get a girl or something?

Dominique : [To Monty] Not that I know of - he was a historian. [To Clint] He did get a girl, he just couldn't hold onto her.

Austin : [To Clint] Are you a relative of Adam's?

Monty : I really rather doubt it. Mr. Scar is quite adamantly opposed to commitment rather than seeking it against all reason.

Smock : What if Adam made this repeating thing for revenge? [To Dominique] Since you're the only one who actually remembers anything and so the only one who this really affects. Did he ever threaten you? Last from Ellen #42

Chastity : Threatened her? He physically struck her! He was dragged from the house by Leon, David and Rick, and thrown out of the town, swearing revenge. It was a shock to everyone.

Clint: [Through gritted teeth] Where'd you see this guy last? I got a few things to discuss with him.

Smock : [To Chastity] What sorta revenge did he say?

Chastity : He didn't say exactly. But to be honest, his verbal abominations had caused me to faint. Fortunately the careful attention from Dominique and some of my refreshing homemade lemonade had be back on my feet after a wee while. [Looks at Dominique with a smile] She's such a thoughtful girl.

Dominique : [Gives Chastity a genuine smile back] He wasn't specific about the revenge, just that it would be terrible. I haven't seen him since the others threw him out of the town.

Smock : [To Dominique] So what'd ya do to him?

Dominique : [Makes to say something to Smock, but thinks better of it, and gives a smile] You know what, that's something I might tell you when you're older. [To the party] I suppose Adam could be responsible, but how do we check?

Smock : No fair. And if I get stuck in here, I'm not going to ever get older!

Monty : Do you have any idea where he might be hiding at this time? And has his house been inspected for anything out of the ordinary?

Alice : Whereas if I get stuck in here, I'll be young forever!

Dominique : Adam didn't have a house, he was a visitor.

Smock : Did he leave anything behind after you kicked him out?

Clint: [Impatiently] All you people ever do is talk! I say we get moving. Let's gather up all those figurines and toss 'em in the mine and see what happens. And, if nothing happens, I say we tear that mine apart. [To Austin] I don't [huge emphasis] need any damn explosives. I'll do it with my bare hands and my trusty boots [gestures to his ratty snakeskin boots].

Smock : Yeah! Let's go smash something up! Dibs on the figurine that looks like Austin!

Austin : [Alarmed. To Dominique] Everything you said about them was quite correct!

Dominique : Their methods might be strange, Reg, [gives Clint's arm a squeeze] but I have faith in them.

Harvey : Smash up the figurines? But they were a gift to you from us! To show how much you mean to us!

Clint: [Smiles at Dominique] Thanks, babe. [To Harvey] Don't be such a woman! Hell, yeah, we're gonna smash the figurines!!

Smock : But only because we care.

Monty : I really rather doubt it. Mr. Scar is quite adamantly opposed to commitment rather than seeking it against all reason.

Smock : What if Adam made this repeating thing for revenge? [To Dominique] Since you're the only one who actually remembers anything and so the only one who this really affects. Did he ever threaten you? Last from Ellen #42

Chastity : Threatened her? He physically struck her! He was dragged from the house by Leon, David and Rick, and thrown out of the town, swearing revenge. It was a shock to everyone.

Clint: [Through gritted teeth] Where'd you see this guy last? I got a few things to discuss with him.

Smock : [To Chastity] What sorta revenge did he say?

Chastity : He didn't say exactly. But to be honest, his verbal abominations had caused me to faint. Fortunately the careful attention from Dominique and some of my refreshing homemade lemonade had be back on my feet after a wee while. [Looks at Dominique with a smile] She's such a thoughtful girl.

Dominique : [Gives Chastity a genuine smile back] He wasn't specific about the revenge, just that it would be terrible. I haven't seen him since the others threw him out of the town.

Smock : [To Dominique] So what'd ya do to him?

Dominique : [Makes to say something to Smock, but thinks better of it, and gives a smile] You know what, that's something I might tell you when you're older. [To the party] I suppose Adam could be responsible, but how do we check?

Smock : No fair. And if I get stuck in here, I'm not going to ever get older!

Monty : Do you have any idea where he might be hiding at this time? And has his house been inspected for anything out of the ordinary?

Alice : Whereas if I get stuck in here, I'll be young forever!

Dominique : Adam didn't have a house, he was a visitor.

Smock : Did he leave anything behind after you kicked him out?

Clint: [Impatiently] All you people ever do is talk! I say we get moving. Let's gather up all those figurines and toss 'em in the mine and see what happens. And, if nothing happens, I say we tear that mine apart. [To Austin] I don't [huge emphasis] need any damn explosives. I'll do it with my bare hands and my trusty boots [gestures to his ratty snakeskin boots].

Smock : Yeah! Let's go smash something up! Dibs on the figurine that looks like Austin!

Austin : [Alarmed. To Dominique] Everything you said about them was quite correct!

Dominique : Their methods might be strange, Reg, [gives Clint's arm a squeeze] but I have faith in them.

Harvey : Smash up the figurines? But they were a gift to you from us! To show how much you mean to us!

Clint: [Smiles at Dominique] Thanks, babe. [To Harvey] Don't be such a woman! Hell, yeah, we're gonna smash the figurines!!

Smock : But only because we care.

Alice : It's okay, Harv-Alf, it's to help Dominique.

Harvey : [Looks Alice up and down, before turning to Austin] You're correct, Fudgeworthy, she does look like a prostitute.

[ALICE gives a sigh, as everyone heads towards DOMINIQUE's window, where they pause for a moment to look in at the figurines.]

The window

Harvey : [Gives Smock a dirty look] Yes, but what is it you care about?

Smock : [Scowls] I want to smash those twins too.

Alice : Uh uh! No way, Smock! It's either Austin or the twins, you can't have both, the rest of us deserve some fun too!

[Enter TWEEDLEBUSH and TWEEDLETONY, running, and pursued by LEON, who's wielding a massive axe.]

Tweedlebush : Leon! No! We have no intention of stealing your fish!

Tweedletony : Your fish is a-okay!

Smock : [Crestfallen] Well... [Looks between Harvey, Austin and Chastity] It doesn't matter...

Austin : [To Harvey] The prole is a most aggressive of creatures, is it not. [Observes the proles] I think we're going to have a 'smashing' time in their company [Smirks] On 31/08/05, Conor Ryan wrote:

Alice : [Watching as Leon and the others race off, and putting on her snottiest, most upper class accent] Quite. One feels that the only habit of the proles that is more egregious than their aggression is their tendency to substitute intelligent social commentary with weak punnery. [Gives Austin a superior look, which is only slightly spoiled by an unexpected burp] Oh! Excuse me! ### Yes! Alice *does* have a nice accent, what with coming from ### a rich family, and all!

Clint: [Sniffs the air suspiciously] Where the hell did you get snake's feet, Bimbo?! Hand some over!!

Alice : [Turns her back on Clint, so she is facing Austin, and lifts up one foot so Clint can examine the sole] There's probably some stuck on my shoe from when I was dancing on the table the other night, you can take that if you want. After all, it would be the Prolish thing to do.

Austin : [Raises and eyebrow of suprise to Alice] I can assure you that the weak pun was for their benefit, Dominique asked us to humor them in thier requests [Glances at Clint and Smock], including allowing them to smash her ornaments, house and to destroy the mine. [To Alice] Quite why you have disguised yourself as a woman of negociable affection, remains to be explained.

Alice : [Looks Austin up and down] As does why you do too.

Austin : [To Alice, smirking dryly] Touche 'madame'

Alice : [With the sweetest of smiles] Touchy, madam?

Austin : [Nods smirking] Yes, that's it. [Looks rather pleased with himself]

Alice : Right! [Claps her hands together] Let's break some lovingly created statues!

Clint: Now we're talking! [grabs figurine one and smashes it on the ground with violent glee]

Austin : [Grabs his figurine and offers it to Smock to smash] Give it a really good smash!

Smock : [Crestfallen] Well... [Looks between Harvey, Austin and Chastity] It doesn't matter...

Austin : [To Harvey] The prole is a most aggressive of creatures, is it not. [Observes the proles] I think we're going to have a 'smashing' time in their company [Smirks] On 31/08/05, Conor Ryan wrote:

Alice : [Watching as Leon and the others race off, and putting on her snottiest, most upper class accent] Quite. One feels that the only habit of the proles that is more egregious than their aggression is their tendency to substitute intelligent social commentary with weak punnery. [Gives Austin a superior look, which is only slightly spoiled by an unexpected burp] Oh! Excuse me! ### Yes! Alice *does* have a nice accent, what with coming from ### a rich family, and all!

Clint: [Sniffs the air suspiciously] Where the hell did you get snake's feet, Bimbo?! Hand some over!!

Alice : [Turns her back on Clint, so she is facing Austin, and lifts up one foot so Clint can examine the sole] There's probably some stuck on my shoe from when I was dancing on the table the other night, you can take that if you want. After all, it would be the Prolish thing to do.

Austin : [Raises and eyebrow of suprise to Alice] I can assure you that the weak pun was for their benefit, Dominique asked us to humor them in thier requests [Glances at Clint and Smock], including allowing them to smash her ornaments, house and to destroy the mine. [To Alice] Quite why you have disguised yourself as a woman of negociable affection, remains to be explained.

Alice : [Looks Austin up and down] As does why you do too.

Austin : [To Alice, smirking dryly] Touche 'madame'

Alice : [With the sweetest of smiles] Touchy, madam?

Austin : [Nods smirking] Yes, that's it. [Looks rather pleased with himself]

Alice : Right! [Claps her hands together] Let's break some lovingly created statues!

Clint: Now we're talking! [grabs figurine one and smashes it on the ground with violent glee]

Austin : [Grabs his figurine and offers it to Smock to smash] Give it a really good smash!

Harvey : My goodness, Reginald, don't encourage them! [To Smock] Listen young girl, you should have respect for other peoples posessions! I'm sure I'll give a lecture on that very subject in the very near future! Oh yes, after tonights lecture on punctuality at ten!

Alice : [Breaks Tweedlebush and Tweedletony] Yeeeha!

Harvey : [Shocked] Oh my goodness, such wanton vandalism of the sort I've never seen before! [To Dominique] Honestly, can't you stop your friends from this destruction?

Harvey : [Sighs heavily] Very well, if chaos is the order of the day, then so be it.

Harvey : [Aghast] Anarchy and destruction in our fair town! [To Chastity] Oh Godmother, what has happened to the youth of today? [To Smock in his sternest voice] I'll take that figurine, young lady, thank you!

Dominique : I did try to tell you Alf! They're trying to help us.

Austin : [To Harvey] I think Dominique explained the situation to us quite adequately, they may smash what they wish to smash. [Smirks arrogantly]

Austin : [To Harvey] I knew you'd be too stuck in your ways to comprehend the necessity of chaos in evolution of our too often ordered society [Smugly writes some notes]

Smock : Sorry Harvey, this one's mine.

Smock: [Grins at Austin with malicious glee, throws the figurine to the ground and jumps on it repeatedly. Steps back, looking at the destruction with a slightly insane-looking smile. To Alice] That was great! Give me another one!

Alice : [Menacingly holding up Q] Get your own! I'm too busy breaking! [About to break it, but stops] Uh, were we going to do this in the mine?

Monty : Yes, we were. Quite all right, though. There are plenty left. I say, perhaps our best approach would be to toss them through the barrier there so that they shatter on the far side? It could well be that liberating the figurines from the interior of the effect is something which would have consequence. [Frowns.] Good or bad, it's difficult to guess.

Alice : But what about these ones that someone's after breaking?

Monty : [To Alice.] Ahem. I'm sorry? Perhaps you might rephrase that? I did just suggest pitching them hard enough to shatter on the far side. Or did you wish to experiment with sending some through without breaking them? Rolling them through might work in that regard.

Alice : [Rolls her eyes] What about the ones that people have [speaks slowly as though addressing a slow child] already broken? [Pokes some of the pieces with her foot]

Monty : Now, if you'd phrased it comprehensibly like that the first time... we'll simply leave them here for the moment. If anything does happen whilst we're engaged in pitching the others, we can return and collect the pieces. Or, if you prefer to take the time, we can do so now. It's simply that time does not seem to be on our side.

Alice : Sorry, Monty. In future I'll make sure to take it down a notch or three to help you keep up. [Looks at Austin, giving a sigh] Proles!

Austin : [To Monty] Why not just take the figurines through the barrier you said there was at the entrance to the town, to test your figurine-barrier hypothesis?

Monty : I'd be quite willing to do that, but Mr. Scar seems quite bent on bringing the mine down, and we might as well get two things done at once. Still, there's no reason that we can't go to the edge of town now and the mine later, if Mr. Scar is willing? [Looks at Clint.]

Clint: [To Monty] Hell, yeah. I just want us to do something besides sit around and yammer. Let's go!

[DOMINIQUE picks up the broken pieces, and everyone grabs a few figurines, before heading to the edge of the town, which is just inside the place where AUSTIN disappeared originally.]

Alice : So this is the barrier?

Dominique : I'm not sure, it seems flexible, but it's somewhere around here.

Monty : Excellent! I'm sure that you'll enjoy demonstrating how far you can pitch the things, Mr. Scar. [Collects a few of the still-whole figures.]

Clint: [To the party] Better duck or take cover or something. Who the hell knows what'll happen?! [takes one of the remaining figurines and hurls it with all his strength toward the barrier]

[CLINT throws the figurine of TIFFANY, getting it quite a distance before it smashes on the ground. Just to be clear, the barrier isn't visible, and DOMINIQUE has been a bit vague about exactly there it is.]

Alice : Me next! [Throws hers, but doesn't get quite the same distance as Clint]

Monty : Just so that we're clear, who did the two of you just pitch? We do need to double-check on whether anything happened to those depicted.

Alice : I threw Q, and I think Stinky threw Tiffany. The Tweedles and Austin are already broken.

Clint: [Unimpressed] Well, that was a whole lotta nothin'. You sure there's a barrier?! [Starts walking toward the alleged barrier to see how far he can get]

Dominique : I'm sure.

[CLINT starts walking and gets about halfway to where he threw the figurine, which is a fair distance from the rest of the party, although he can still converse with them, albeit people will have to speak up.]

Alice : [Whispering] Hey! Now we can talk about him!

Austin : [To Alice] Or talk about something much more interesting.

Clint: [Yelling at the top of his lungs] HEY, THERE'S NO BARRIER!!!

Monty : [Calls to Clint.] Can you reach the remains?

Clint: [Shrugs in response to Monty and keeps walking toward the broken figurines]

Austin : [Walks down towards Clint] Perhaps the barrier is deeper today, as Dominique suggested!

Harvey : If, indeed, one exists!

[CLINT suddenly disappears, as though he's fallen into a pit.]

Alice : Clint!

Austin : [Approaces the point where Clint dissapeared, but is careful not to walk over the area] Ahh, the bravery of the cannon fodder! [Smirks. To Clint] Mr Scar, are you there?

Alice : Oh shut up, Fudgepacker! [Goes to look for Clint, but also disappears, in a similar spot]

Smock: Oh no, oh no, oh no! [Jumps around nervously from foot to foot. To Monty, distressed] What do we do Monty?

Austin : [Sneers as Alice dissapears] Packer? At least I know who my parents are. [Sighs] Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained [Walks forwards carefully]

Chastity : [To Smock and Monty] I think you should follow your friends. It would appear from your story that the worst that can happen is that you go back to the start of the loop.

Smock: [To Chastity] Won't you come too? Please?

Chastity : [Looks a bit apprhensive for a moment] Well, I suppose under my own advice I'll find myself with some lovely warm scones. [Smiles and holds her hand out for Smock] I must try to remember to bring a pot of my homemade strawberry jam this time. ### Will wait for Smocks hand and then walk towards the "barrier"

Smock: [Taking Chastity's hand with a smile. To Harvey] You too, Alf. Please. You'll need to make sure we're back in time for your lecture. [Walks toward the barrier with Chastity]

Harvey : [Walking alongside the two] Let's see.

[The three walk on a bit, only for SMOCK to fall down through (an apparently different) hole.]

Harvey : I say! [Looks down the hole] It's too narrow for one of us to fit through. [Calls down] Hello!

Dominique : Well, let's smash the rest of the figurines, and then wait back at my house, the others will know to turn up there.

[Much figurine throwing ensues.]

[Book V, Act III, Scene VII. The Streets of Metaplasia. ALICE, CLINT and SMOCK are here, walking towards DOMINIQUE's house, outside of which HARVEY, CHASTITY, DOMINIQUE and MONTY are standing. It is now early evening.]

Alice : Gee, Monty, thanks for the show of solidarity. Last from Conor #001

Chastity : I'll just get a broom to tidy up this needless mess. [goes off to get a brush]

Monty : [Calls to Clint.] Can you reach the remains?

Clint: [Shrugs in response to Monty and keeps walking toward the broken figurines]

Austin : [Walks down towards Clint] Perhaps the barrier is deeper today, as Dominique suggested!

Harvey : If, indeed, one exists!

[CLINT suddenly disappears, as though he's fallen into a pit.]

Alice : Clint!

Austin : [Approaces the point where Clint dissapeared, but is careful not to walk over the area] Ahh, the bravery of the cannon fodder! [Smirks. To Clint] Mr Scar, are you there?

Alice : Oh shut up, Fudgepacker! [Goes to look for Clint, but also disappears, in a similar spot]

Smock: Oh no, oh no, oh no! [Jumps around nervously from foot to foot. To Monty, distressed] What do we do Monty?

Austin : [Sneers as Alice dissapears] Packer? At least I know who my parents are. [Sighs] Oh well, nothing ventured, nothing gained [Walks forwards carefully]

Chastity : [To Smock and Monty] I think you should follow your friends. It would appear from your story that the worst that can happen is that you go back to the start of the loop.

Smock: [To Chastity] Won't you come too? Please?

Chastity : [Looks a bit apprhensive for a moment] Well, I suppose under my own advice I'll find myself with some lovely warm scones. [Smiles and holds her hand out for Smock] I must try to remember to bring a pot of my homemade strawberry jam this time. ### Will wait for Smocks hand and then walk towards the "barrier"

Smock: [Taking Chastity's hand with a smile. To Harvey] You too, Alf. Please. You'll need to make sure we're back in time for your lecture. [Walks toward the barrier with Chastity]

Harvey : [Walking alongside the two] Let's see.

[The three walk on a bit, only for SMOCK to fall down through (an apparently different) hole.]

Harvey : I say! [Looks down the hole] It's too narrow for one of us to fit through. [Calls down] Hello!

Dominique : Well, let's smash the rest of the figurines, and then wait back at my house, the others will know to turn up there.

[Much figurine throwing ensues.]

[Book V, Act III, Scene VII. The Streets of Metaplasia. ALICE, CLINT and SMOCK are here, walking towards DOMINIQUE's house, outside of which HARVEY, CHASTITY, DOMINIQUE and MONTY are standing. It is now early evening.]

Alice : Gee, Monty, thanks for the show of solidarity. Last from Conor #001

Chastity : I'll just get a broom to tidy up this needless mess. [goes off to get a brush]

Harvey : Yes, the place is quite messy Godmother, I'm surprised you let it become quite so dishevelled! I do believe I'll give a lecture on the corruption of slothly behaviour in the not too distant future!

Monty : [To Harvey.] Please do so, sir. I'm certain that Mr. Scar will listen with rapt attention! [To Alice.] Given how much you seem to object to my company, I'm surprised that you didn't appreciate the separation. [To the Party.] Everyone is still here, I see? Now we need to check on whether anyone else about town has been affected. And if not, then there is the matter of the mine and the bok. I mean book.

Smock: [To Dominique] Is that what happens when you try to leave? You kinda fall into a hole?

Alice : Given this latest outrage, Monty, I appreciate it all the more.

Dominique : Something like that, or I disappear over a cliff that suddenly appears.

Harvey : No, nothing has changed with anyone else.

Smock: Okay. Let's go blow up the mine now!

Monty : That does seem to be one of our possible leads. Ahem. Pending proper tools and with Dominique's permission, of course?

Austin : [To Monty, smirking] Yes, well I'm sure we'd all like Dominique's 'Permission', but what will blowing up the mine achieve? This whole this is obviously to do with Dominique, as she is the only one who remains unchanged by the, [Pauses] time loop bubble.

Monty : [To Austin.] If nothing else, it will provide Mr. Scar an outlet for his... ahem... frustrations. And let it be recalled that you, sir, were the one who all but threw a fit when I attempted to inquire into the details of Dominique's situation.

Clint: [Watching Monty and Austin fight with annoyance] You two done with your little catfight? [To Smock with unseemly eagerness] Come on, kid! Let's go rip that mine apart!

Alice : [Shakes her head sadly at Monty, before turning to Austin, rolling her eyes] Prole!

Dominique : Well, just so as we're clear, the mine's not mine, so it's not really up to me to give permission - in any event, how are you going to blow it up?

Harvey : And [emphasis] why? And how do we know the town won't be destroyed?

Austin : [To Monty] You must be over soft in the grey matter if you think that was all but a fit. [To Clint with a look of distaste] You appear to have some expertise in ripping appart dark tunnels.

Chastity : I don't mean to butt in here, but what are you going to blow the mine up [pauses for effect] with? Has anyone got explosives?

Monty : Other than their tempers, I don't believe so.

Austin : [Smugly] I think that Mr Scar was intending to use his 'Big General' to rip into the muddy passage.

Clint: [To Alfred and Austin, frustrated] Come on! You two are such know-it-alls, can't you figure out some way to make some?!

Monty : Quite possibly, yes. If we had access to appropriate facilities and the time in which to work. On short notice and without appropriate facilities... it would be rather difficult. Certainly to create enough to bring a mine down. [Considers the matter.]

Smock: [Eagerly] Come on, Monty, think!

Harvey : No, there is nothing in the town that could be used as an explosive.

Alice : Are there many bottles of lemonade?

Harvey : I suppose there are a fair number.

Alice : [Triumphantly] Ah ha!

Smock: [Pauses, looking confusedly at Alice] Um. Well, we can just set it on fire or something.

Austin : [To Harvey] That is not entirely true. I posess several sacks of custard powder, which if mixed with air at the right density, becomes highly explosive in a confined space, such as the mine. [Looks horrifically sumg]

Smock: [To Austin] Well, let's go get 'em!

Harvey : Custard powder? And do you know the correct density to mix them at?

[ALICE says nothing, but is clearly annoyed at the lack of interest shown in her enthusiasm.]

Clint: [To Alice] What are you sulking about, Bimbo?

Alice : The complete lack of reaction at my triumphant ah ha!

Clint: [Impatiently] Well?! Spit it out!! What's so great about having lemonade? How on earth can we use it to blow up the mine??

Smock: Oh. [To Alice] What is it Alice? Did you beat Monty to a solution?

Alice : [Folds her arms] I'm not so sure I want to say now.

Harvey : Fine. Let's take a look at the custard powder instead.

Alice : Okay! Okay! If you're going to make such a song and dance about it! What we do, right, is get all the bottles of lemonade in the town, put them all in the mine, but, [starts getting enthusiastic] and here's the genius of it, we shake all the bottles [big smile] really, really hard!

Monty : Ahem. [Apologetically.] While that might well produce explosions, a rather important part of any such plan is that we be elsewhere when the detonation actually occurs, not holding the explosive devices in our hands in order to shake them.

Alice : They're like grenades! You throw them, and all we'd have to do is make sure that all the bottles are thrown at the same time! [Sags] Okay, let's hear your idea, if you're so smart.

Monty : [To Harvey.] Please do so, sir. I'm certain that Mr. Scar will listen with rapt attention! [To Alice.] Given how much you seem to object to my company, I'm surprised that you didn't appreciate the separation. [To the Party.] Everyone is still here, I see? Now we need to check on whether anyone else about town has been affected. And if not, then there is the matter of the mine and the bok. I mean book.

Smock: [To Dominique] Is that what happens when you try to leave? You kinda fall into a hole?

Alice : Given this latest outrage, Monty, I appreciate it all the more.

Dominique : Something like that, or I disappear over a cliff that suddenly appears.

Harvey : No, nothing has changed with anyone else.

Smock: Okay. Let's go blow up the mine now!

Monty : That does seem to be one of our possible leads. Ahem. Pending proper tools and with Dominique's permission, of course?

Austin : [To Monty, smirking] Yes, well I'm sure we'd all like Dominique's 'Permission', but what will blowing up the mine achieve? This whole this is obviously to do with Dominique, as she is the only one who remains unchanged by the, [Pauses] time loop bubble.

Monty : [To Austin.] If nothing else, it will provide Mr. Scar an outlet for his... ahem... frustrations. And let it be recalled that you, sir, were the one who all but threw a fit when I attempted to inquire into the details of Dominique's situation.

Clint: [Watching Monty and Austin fight with annoyance] You two done with your little catfight? [To Smock with unseemly eagerness] Come on, kid! Let's go rip that mine apart!

Alice : [Shakes her head sadly at Monty, before turning to Austin, rolling her eyes] Prole!

Dominique : Well, just so as we're clear, the mine's not mine, so it's not really up to me to give permission - in any event, how are you going to blow it up?

Harvey : And [emphasis] why? And how do we know the town won't be destroyed?

Austin : [To Monty] You must be over soft in the grey matter if you think that was all but a fit. [To Clint with a look of distaste] You appear to have some expertise in ripping appart dark tunnels.

Chastity : I don't mean to butt in here, but what are you going to blow the mine up [pauses for effect] with? Has anyone got explosives?

Monty : Other than their tempers, I don't believe so.

Austin : [Smugly] I think that Mr Scar was intending to use his 'Big General' to rip into the muddy passage.

Clint: [To Alfred and Austin, frustrated] Come on! You two are such know-it-alls, can't you figure out some way to make some?!

Monty : Quite possibly, yes. If we had access to appropriate facilities and the time in which to work. On short notice and without appropriate facilities... it would be rather difficult. Certainly to create enough to bring a mine down. [Considers the matter.]

Smock: [Eagerly] Come on, Monty, think!

Harvey : No, there is nothing in the town that could be used as an explosive.

Alice : Are there many bottles of lemonade?

Harvey : I suppose there are a fair number.

Alice : [Triumphantly] Ah ha!

Smock: [Pauses, looking confusedly at Alice] Um. Well, we can just set it on fire or something.

Austin : [To Harvey] That is not entirely true. I posess several sacks of custard powder, which if mixed with air at the right density, becomes highly explosive in a confined space, such as the mine. [Looks horrifically sumg]

Smock: [To Austin] Well, let's go get 'em!

Harvey : Custard powder? And do you know the correct density to mix them at?

[ALICE says nothing, but is clearly annoyed at the lack of interest shown in her enthusiasm.]

Clint: [To Alice] What are you sulking about, Bimbo?

Alice : The complete lack of reaction at my triumphant ah ha!

Clint: [Impatiently] Well?! Spit it out!! What's so great about having lemonade? How on earth can we use it to blow up the mine??

Smock: Oh. [To Alice] What is it Alice? Did you beat Monty to a solution?

Alice : [Folds her arms] I'm not so sure I want to say now.

Harvey : Fine. Let's take a look at the custard powder instead.

Alice : Okay! Okay! If you're going to make such a song and dance about it! What we do, right, is get all the bottles of lemonade in the town, put them all in the mine, but, [starts getting enthusiastic] and here's the genius of it, we shake all the bottles [big smile] really, really hard!

Monty : Ahem. [Apologetically.] While that might well produce explosions, a rather important part of any such plan is that we be elsewhere when the detonation actually occurs, not holding the explosive devices in our hands in order to shake them.

Alice : They're like grenades! You throw them, and all we'd have to do is make sure that all the bottles are thrown at the same time! [Sags] Okay, let's hear your idea, if you're so smart.

Monty : Well, we've had two potential suggestions... why not attempt both? We can employ the custard powder technique offered earlier, and utilize the lemonade grenades as a backup if necessary. That way, if the custard powder does work, we'll have something to drink in celebration. [Smiles encouragingly at Alice.] Quite well thought out in that regard, Alice.

Austin : Well, we need to see if there is any air flow into or out of the mine, and then, standing at which ever end is 'up wind', let clouds of custard powder fill the mine, then after say, 10 miniutes, or so, depending on wind speed, some one throw a lit torch into the mouth of the mine, and, provided the custard powder is at a high enough density, [Casually] kaboom! [Let's go and get the custard]

Alice : [To the others] Does this have [emphasis] any chance of working?

Harvey : It's probably slightly less likely to work than your idea.

Alice : [Thinks for a moment] Oh. [Big smile] Aw! Thank you!

Chastity : Well I suppose that I have the necessary ingredients for both plans in my home larder annex. I have a few catering tins of custard powder just in case. [To Dominique] I think we can all still remember to distress of the great vanilla essence shortage of '76. [Back to the others] And I have a few of crates of my experimental sweet lemonade. Unfortunately the extra sugar made it so fizzy that it caused nose bleeds.

Austin : [To Harvey] I doubt that very much. Shall we go and get the custard?

Smock: [To Austin] That sounds like a dumb idea. We might as well rip it down with our bare hands!

Clint : It does sound dumb, but if there's a chance of making a bigger explosion, let's go for it!

[Every goes to House H, AUSTIN/REGINALD'S house, and enter the kitchen, where a quick investigation of the larder reveals several large sacks of custard powder.]

Harvey : [Sceptically] This is never going to work.

Monty : [To Harvey.] With this lot, you'd be surprised at the sort of impossible things that work and the sort of foolproof things that don't. This could well be another one of those cases. Let's get this powder to the mine, then! [Checks a sack to ensure that it is whole and sturdy, then hoists it in preparation.]

Smock: [Looks at the custard sceptically, before shrugging and going to pick up a sack herself.] Alright then. [To Austin] This explosion better be good.

Alice : [Also takes a sack, but pausing to shake a warning fist at Austin] Or, at the very least, it better taste good!

Austin : [Ponders the plan] We could test the custard powder to air ratio, to see what ratio of airbourne custard powder to air gives the greatest explosion.

Alice : Okay, Finestein, how do we do that?

Austin : [To Alice] The procedure is quite [Looks at Alice] Simple. We take a large tin such as [Looks around his larder then grabs an empty 3l tin of coffee] this! Then, using these measuring scoops [Gets some measuring scoops from his kitchen draw] We measure a small quantity of powder into this tin, put the lid on, shake it vigourously, then pop the lid off quickly and introduce a flame to the center of the powdery tin. We repeat this operation for increasing amounts of powder and estimate how good the explosion was for each powder quantity. Once we have the best ratio, that's the one that gives the biggest bang, we estimate the volume of the mine, then carefully measure the appropriate quantity of custard powder, and waft it into the mine. [Does a 'it's that simple' gesture]

Alice : [Tosses Austin a box of matches] I'm willing to bet 5,000 GP this won't work.

Clint : Come on! Let's blow something up - and let's do it in the kitchen.

Smock: [Clearly unimpressed by Austin's experimental method] Can't we just chuck all of the custard in there? Won't that make the best explosion?

Monty : [Glances skyward to check the time.] Time constraints notwithstanding, testing the air-explosives ratio does make some engineering sense. We simply need to make sure that we're done testing in time to repeat the process in the mine before the next reset occurs.

Dominique : We've only got about another fifteen minutes. [To Austin, with a raised eyebrow] Is this really going to work?

[Enter FAITH, reading her book.]

Faith : [Stops, and surveys the scene] Oh God. He's not going on about custard powder again, is he?

Smock: [To Austin] Hurry up then. [Grabs the box of matches] I don't want to start this all over again just cuz you're slow. [Lights a match and throws it into the tin]

Alice : [Dives for cover] It's gonna blow!

[Predictably, nothing happens.]

QLast from Conor #44

Austin : [To Alice] We need to put the custard powder into the tine and shake it first! [Puts a generous portion of custard powder into the tin, puts the lid on and shakes it up, then, whips the lid off and strikes another match into the tin]

Alice : [Just getting up again, and seeing Austin throw in the match] It's gonna blow! [Jumps for cover again]

[Again, nothing happens.]

Faith : [To Austin] Do you have any evidence or experience that suggests this is going to work?

Smock: [Puts on an amiable smile] Hey, Faith. Since you're the cleverest girl in the Realms or whatever, do you know something laying about town that we can use to make explosives? [Glancing at Austin] With better chances for success than this crack-pot scheme?

Faith : That is an entirely different situation and you know it.

Austin : [Haughtly, to Faith] There is a great deal of empirical evidence that shows that the air bourne custard particles in custard mills will explode if there is a source of ignition.

Faith : [FLicks through the book for a moment, before coming to rest on a page that she spends a few moments reading] No.

Austin : [To Faith] Is it! How?

Faith : [Flicks through her book before selecting a page] It just is, okay?

Chastity : [Peering down at the container label] I think there may be problem. This is a supply of [reads the words] low grade stale & lumpy custard powder. [Looks up] It's specially brought in for the school dinners and old peoples homes. The chances of it becoming a fine suspended powder are remote, although if we have to hurriedly cement ourselves into building [pats the container] this is just the thing.

Austin : [Really anoyed] There is nothing wrong with MY [Points at the sacks in his larder] custard powder! It's the finest in the land! You lot just don't want to be saved! [Stomps off in a huff]

Alice : God almighty! If being saved will get us away from him, then I'm sure we [huge emphasis] all want to be saved! What do we do now?

[Enter RICK, in a state of great excitement.]

Rick : H- [face drops] Do I know you? What are you doing in my house? ### It's not Rick's house, of course.

Harvey : These people are attempting to explode custard! And what has you looking so excited? You've never seemed that excited about my lectures before.

Rick : Dominique's house is on fire! We must save her, she's trapped inside! Dominique is trapped inside!

Dominique : I'm here, Rick.

Rick : Do I know you?

Smock: So I guess all we gotta do now is stay alive until morning! [Looks warily at the custard] Maybe this isn't the safest place to hang out though.

Faith : Look. I already told you, there will not be an explosion. That is a preposterous suggestion. Observe. [Lights a match] See? Absolutely no chance of -

[Kaboom.]

[Book V, Act III, Scene VIII. The Entrance to Metaplasia. SMOCK and MONTY are here, having just entered the town. It is now early morning, and LEON approaches.]

Leon : Bark! Bark! What are you doing here?

Monty : I'm afraid that we're having a bit of a bad day is what we're doing, sir. However, we have come in part to speak with Dominique. Is she at home?

Leon : [Shrugs] Pf. I suppose.

Austin : [Strolloing past, obviously writing notes for some fantastic novel he's writing, spots Monty and Smock] Oh dear! Look what the dog dragged in! [To Leon, smirking] How is you fish today?

Leon : Rotting and stinking. It will soon be ready to eat.

[Enter ALICE, wearing glasses and reading from "The Big Bok of Knowledge". She stops when she sees them.]

Alice : [To Austin] Ah! Reginald! What is going on here?

Austin : [To Faith] Ah, good day to you Faith, the dog appears to have dragged in two of Phili's more egregious creations [Gestures towards Smock and Monty]

Monty : [Politely.] Just a couple of visitors to see Dominique, ma'am. Oh, and may I congratulate you. That's a most impressive looking bok. I mean book. Ahem. [Leads the way to Dominique's.]

Alice : [Wrinkles up her nose in disgust] That one certainly seems like an idiot, Reginald. Do we really want people like that in our town?

Austin : [To Alice] Well, they say that variety is the spice of life, but I don't think these two scallywags constitute spice exactly [Ponders the visitors] Hopefully they wont stay long.

Alice : I for one find their over familiarity objectionable.

[As MONTY approaches DOMINIQUE's house, she comes out.]

Dominique : Ah! There you are.

Monty : Ahem. Yes. Only we seem to have lost two this time. Is that customary, or has something gone awry?

Clint: [Spots Monty as he walks down the street. Approaches Monty and asks] Do I know you?

Austin : [To Alice, looks worried] Indeed, their over familiarity is most concerning, someone may think that we have history with these proles! [Hastily to Dominique] I'd just like to say that we have never, ever met these proles before [Points at Monty and Smock with his posh silver topped cane, then takes a few steps back from them to stand closer to Dominique]

Monty : [To Clint.] I'm afraid not, sir, as this fellow [Indicates Austin] has just most priggishly clarified.

Dominique : It's not that uncommon for more than one person to disappear at a time, although it's rarely more than two. [Takes Clint, Austin and Alice aside, and talks to them briefly, with each of them taking it in turns to give gasped sighs] Now, do you all understand?

Clint : Do I know you?

Dominique : Sigh.

Austin : It seems like we're in quite a spot of bother. [To Alice] Is there anything in your book that may help us get out of this time loop?

Alice : [Flicks through the book] The obvious answer is to simply leave the town. It is crucial to discover what is causing the loop.

Smock: [Steps out from hiding behind Monty] Well, I still think it's Adam.

Clint : Who's Adam? Do I know him?

Alice : [Flicks through the Bok, before selecting a page] Dominique's ex-boyfriend, we threw him out of the town when he attacked her.

Dominique : Sigh. And how does that help us?

Alice : [Thumbs through the book, before stopping, and closing it] I don't know, it just does!

Smock: [To Dominique] Well, tell us more about him. What was he doing here? Did he arrive with you? Was he studying something here? Did he leave anything behind? Did he like your eggy bread? What colour were his eyes?

Dominique : Blue, yes, no, me, no, visiting.

Smock: Studying you? Why? Did you do something special?

Dominique : Click-click! I told you, I'll tell you all about it when you're older. I just meant that he was courting me. He is a magic user, though.

Austin : [Haughtly, to Smock] As Alice said, the simplest thing to do is to try leaving town. So let's go! [Moves towards the exit]

Alice : [Falling in with Austin's pace] Honestly! Some people. [To Clint] Rick! Summons the townspeople at once, we are all leaving.

Clint : Uh, do I know you?

Alice : Just ring your bell.

[CLINT walks out into the street, ringing a large bell quite loudly, causing people to come from various houses.]

Alice : [Points at Austin with the Bok] Ew! You've got something on your sleeve, Reginald!

Smock: [Grabbing at Austin's sleeve] No! You can't. Last time we lost nearly a whole day doing that! There's a barrier that's stopping us leaving.

Austin : [Very pale, stare fixed on Smock's hand, breathing irregularily, almost frozen to the spot. To Smock] Unhand me, you vile detritus!

Chastity : [Appears with a tray of scones] Warm homemade scones anyone?

Smock: [Frowns forlornly, but lets go of Austin] But I don't want to be stuck here forever. Please. We already tried that.

Alice : [Dramatically holds her hand up to Chastity] No time for scones, Godmother, this is an emergency, we have a town to evacuate! [Looks at the scones] Oh, you have them already buttered? Uh, well, maybe we have time for a few. [To the others, by way of explanation] The Book recommends the eating hot buttery scones whenever possible.

Chastity : Perhaps Adam left something in Dominiques house?

Austin : [Starts breathing more normally, and relaxes, brushing his sleeve with a handkerchief. Whispers something to Alice] Well, what else can we do?

Alice : [Checks the book] Uh, nothing.

Clint : Has that book ever been helpful? [Grabs it off Alice and flicks through the pages, before showing them to everyone else] Hey! This isn't a proper book at all, look, all the pages are blank!

Alice : [Grabs it back] You're just not using it properly!

Smock: We have to find some way to break the curse Adam left, if that's what this is about. [To Alice] What does the book say about curses?

Dominique : No, and he got very angry when I tried to ask him about it.

Chastity : Do you know what was he doing with the lab equipment?

Austin : [To Clint, sneering] You have to be able to read to use a book! [To Dominique] So, did Adam leave you a gift or item of some sort? An amulet perhaps [Checks his nails in an 'as if' fashion]

Dominique : Nothing! Just a bunch of smashed up lab equipment. There's really nothing of interest there.

Austin : [To Dominique] Perhaps the smashed up lab equipment was intended to be some form of time machine, [Writing furiously] And when it was smashed up it became, unstable, and caused this time loop? Could we take a look please?

Clint : [Sniggers] Maybe the big book can tell us something about it?

Alice : [Annoyed] Do I know you?

Dominique : No, I'm afraid I threw all his stuff out when it happened. ### In an earlier scene it was established that the altercation with ### Adam happened at least a week before this day started ### loooping

Harvey : [Wandering along talking to someone out of view] Yes, my lecture is at ten, yes, ten! And not a minute later! [Looks around] Ah, hello Dominique, Godmother. Did I hear you say you threw things away, superb! A fine example to set after my Cleanliness Is Next To Philiness lecture of last week! [Looks very pleased with himself]

Alice : Maybe she threw away your handouts?

Harvey : [Panic stricken for a moment] No, no, I don't think so, she'd never do such a thing! [Sees Monty and Smock] Ah, strangers, I do hope you can attend my lecture tonight on Punctuality at ten sharp?

Dominique : Of course I wouldn't, Alf.

Alice : I thought the lecture was on punctuality?

Monty : [Glances skyward to check the time.] Time constraints notwithstanding, testing the air-explosives ratio does make some engineering sense. We simply need to make sure that we're done testing in time to repeat the process in the mine before the next reset occurs.

Dominique : We've only got about another fifteen minutes. [To Austin, with a raised eyebrow] Is this really going to work?

[Enter FAITH, reading her book.]

Faith : [Stops, and surveys the scene] Oh God. He's not going on about custard powder again, is he?

Smock: [To Austin] Hurry up then. [Grabs the box of matches] I don't want to start this all over again just cuz you're slow. [Lights a match and throws it into the tin]

Alice : [Dives for cover] It's gonna blow!

[Predictably, nothing happens.]

QLast from Conor #44

Austin : [To Alice] We need to put the custard powder into the tine and shake it first! [Puts a generous portion of custard powder into the tin, puts the lid on and shakes it up, then, whips the lid off and strikes another match into the tin]

Alice : [Just getting up again, and seeing Austin throw in the match] It's gonna blow! [Jumps for cover again]

[Again, nothing happens.]

Faith : [To Austin] Do you have any evidence or experience that suggests this is going to work?

Smock: [Puts on an amiable smile] Hey, Faith. Since you're the cleverest girl in the Realms or whatever, do you know something laying about town that we can use to make explosives? [Glancing at Austin] With better chances for success than this crack-pot scheme?

Faith : That is an entirely different situation and you know it.

Austin : [Haughtly, to Faith] There is a great deal of empirical evidence that shows that the air bourne custard particles in custard mills will explode if there is a source of ignition.

Faith : [FLicks through the book for a moment, before coming to rest on a page that she spends a few moments reading] No.

Austin : [To Faith] Is it! How?

Faith : [Flicks through her book before selecting a page] It just is, okay?

Chastity : [Peering down at the container label] I think there may be problem. This is a supply of [reads the words] low grade stale & lumpy custard powder. [Looks up] It's specially brought in for the school dinners and old peoples homes. The chances of it becoming a fine suspended powder are remote, although if we have to hurriedly cement ourselves into building [pats the container] this is just the thing.

Austin : [Really anoyed] There is nothing wrong with MY [Points at the sacks in his larder] custard powder! It's the finest in the land! You lot just don't want to be saved! [Stomps off in a huff]

Alice : God almighty! If being saved will get us away from him, then I'm sure we [huge emphasis] all want to be saved! What do we do now?

[Enter RICK, in a state of great excitement.]

Rick : H- [face drops] Do I know you? What are you doing in my house? ### It's not Rick's house, of course.

Harvey : These people are attempting to explode custard! And what has you looking so excited? You've never seemed that excited about my lectures before.

Rick : Dominique's house is on fire! We must save her, she's trapped inside! Dominique is trapped inside!

Dominique : I'm here, Rick.

Rick : Do I know you?

Smock: So I guess all we gotta do now is stay alive until morning! [Looks warily at the custard] Maybe this isn't the safest place to hang out though.

Faith : Look. I already told you, there will not be an explosion. That is a preposterous suggestion. Observe. [Lights a match] See? Absolutely no chance of -

[Kaboom.]

[Book V, Act III, Scene VIII. The Entrance to Metaplasia. SMOCK and MONTY are here, having just entered the town. It is now early morning, and LEON approaches.]

Leon : Bark! Bark! What are you doing here?

Monty : I'm afraid that we're having a bit of a bad day is what we're doing, sir. However, we have come in part to speak with Dominique. Is she at home?

Leon : [Shrugs] Pf. I suppose.

Austin : [Strolloing past, obviously writing notes for some fantastic novel he's writing, spots Monty and Smock] Oh dear! Look what the dog dragged in! [To Leon, smirking] How is you fish today?

Leon : Rotting and stinking. It will soon be ready to eat.

[Enter ALICE, wearing glasses and reading from "The Big Bok of Knowledge". She stops when she sees them.]

Alice : [To Austin] Ah! Reginald! What is going on here?

Austin : [To Faith] Ah, good day to you Faith, the dog appears to have dragged in two of Phili's more egregious creations [Gestures towards Smock and Monty]

Monty : [Politely.] Just a couple of visitors to see Dominique, ma'am. Oh, and may I congratulate you. That's a most impressive looking bok. I mean book. Ahem. [Leads the way to Dominique's.]

Alice : [Wrinkles up her nose in disgust] That one certainly seems like an idiot, Reginald. Do we really want people like that in our town?

Austin : [To Alice] Well, they say that variety is the spice of life, but I don't think these two scallywags constitute spice exactly [Ponders the visitors] Hopefully they wont stay long.

Alice : I for one find their over familiarity objectionable.

[As MONTY approaches DOMINIQUE's house, she comes out.]

Dominique : Ah! There you are.

Monty : Ahem. Yes. Only we seem to have lost two this time. Is that customary, or has something gone awry?

Clint: [Spots Monty as he walks down the street. Approaches Monty and asks] Do I know you?

Austin : [To Alice, looks worried] Indeed, their over familiarity is most concerning, someone may think that we have history with these proles! [Hastily to Dominique] I'd just like to say that we have never, ever met these proles before [Points at Monty and Smock with his posh silver topped cane, then takes a few steps back from them to stand closer to Dominique]

Monty : [To Clint.] I'm afraid not, sir, as this fellow [Indicates Austin] has just most priggishly clarified.

Dominique : It's not that uncommon for more than one person to disappear at a time, although it's rarely more than two. [Takes Clint, Austin and Alice aside, and talks to them briefly, with each of them taking it in turns to give gasped sighs] Now, do you all understand?

Clint : Do I know you?

Dominique : Sigh.

Austin : It seems like we're in quite a spot of bother. [To Alice] Is there anything in your book that may help us get out of this time loop?

Alice : [Flicks through the book] The obvious answer is to simply leave the town. It is crucial to discover what is causing the loop.

Smock: [Steps out from hiding behind Monty] Well, I still think it's Adam.

Clint : Who's Adam? Do I know him?

Alice : [Flicks through the Bok, before selecting a page] Dominique's ex-boyfriend, we threw him out of the town when he attacked her.

Dominique : Sigh. And how does that help us?

Alice : [Thumbs through the book, before stopping, and closing it] I don't know, it just does!

Smock: [To Dominique] Well, tell us more about him. What was he doing here? Did he arrive with you? Was he studying something here? Did he leave anything behind? Did he like your eggy bread? What colour were his eyes?

Dominique : Blue, yes, no, me, no, visiting.

Smock: Studying you? Why? Did you do something special?

Dominique : Click-click! I told you, I'll tell you all about it when you're older. I just meant that he was courting me. He is a magic user, though.

Austin : [Haughtly, to Smock] As Alice said, the simplest thing to do is to try leaving town. So let's go! [Moves towards the exit]

Alice : [Falling in with Austin's pace] Honestly! Some people. [To Clint] Rick! Summons the townspeople at once, we are all leaving.

Clint : Uh, do I know you?

Alice : Just ring your bell.

[CLINT walks out into the street, ringing a large bell quite loudly, causing people to come from various houses.]

Alice : [Points at Austin with the Bok] Ew! You've got something on your sleeve, Reginald!

Smock: [Grabbing at Austin's sleeve] No! You can't. Last time we lost nearly a whole day doing that! There's a barrier that's stopping us leaving.

Austin : [Very pale, stare fixed on Smock's hand, breathing irregularily, almost frozen to the spot. To Smock] Unhand me, you vile detritus!

Chastity : [Appears with a tray of scones] Warm homemade scones anyone?

Smock: [Frowns forlornly, but lets go of Austin] But I don't want to be stuck here forever. Please. We already tried that.

Alice : [Dramatically holds her hand up to Chastity] No time for scones, Godmother, this is an emergency, we have a town to evacuate! [Looks at the scones] Oh, you have them already buttered? Uh, well, maybe we have time for a few. [To the others, by way of explanation] The Book recommends the eating hot buttery scones whenever possible.

Chastity : Perhaps Adam left something in Dominiques house?

Austin : [Starts breathing more normally, and relaxes, brushing his sleeve with a handkerchief. Whispers something to Alice] Well, what else can we do?

Alice : [Checks the book] Uh, nothing.

Clint : Has that book ever been helpful? [Grabs it off Alice and flicks through the pages, before showing them to everyone else] Hey! This isn't a proper book at all, look, all the pages are blank!

Alice : [Grabs it back] You're just not using it properly!

Smock: We have to find some way to break the curse Adam left, if that's what this is about. [To Alice] What does the book say about curses?

Dominique : No, and he got very angry when I tried to ask him about it.

Chastity : Do you know what was he doing with the lab equipment?

Austin : [To Clint, sneering] You have to be able to read to use a book! [To Dominique] So, did Adam leave you a gift or item of some sort? An amulet perhaps [Checks his nails in an 'as if' fashion]

Dominique : Nothing! Just a bunch of smashed up lab equipment. There's really nothing of interest there.

Austin : [To Dominique] Perhaps the smashed up lab equipment was intended to be some form of time machine, [Writing furiously] And when it was smashed up it became, unstable, and caused this time loop? Could we take a look please?

Clint : [Sniggers] Maybe the big book can tell us something about it?

Alice : [Annoyed] Do I know you?

Dominique : No, I'm afraid I threw all his stuff out when it happened. ### In an earlier scene it was established that the altercation with ### Adam happened at least a week before this day started ### loooping

Harvey : [Wandering along talking to someone out of view] Yes, my lecture is at ten, yes, ten! And not a minute later! [Looks around] Ah, hello Dominique, Godmother. Did I hear you say you threw things away, superb! A fine example to set after my Cleanliness Is Next To Philiness lecture of last week! [Looks very pleased with himself]

Alice : Maybe she threw away your handouts?

Harvey : [Panic stricken for a moment] No, no, I don't think so, she'd never do such a thing! [Sees Monty and Smock] Ah, strangers, I do hope you can attend my lecture tonight on Punctuality at ten sharp?

Dominique : Of course I wouldn't, Alf.

Alice : I thought the lecture was on punctuality?

Smock: [To Dominique] Has everyone ever been punctual?

Monty : [To Dominique.] May I ask what sort of laboratory apparatus it appeared to be? Alchemical, mechanical, or something else?

Alf : [Sadly to Smock] No.

Dominique : [Dismissively] Some sort of alchemical type thing, I don't really know. If he has done something magical, it is outside of the town.

Monty : Ahem. As excellent as the idea of investigating his activities outside of town may be, we face the small difficulty of apparently being unable to leave in order to do so. Is there anywhere within our achievable reach that he might have enacted some part of this presumed spell-trap?

Dominique : No, he would probably have done it from the mine. I don't understand why other people get sucked in, though, because it does beg the question, what happens to those who get replaced?

Monty : [Glances skyward to check the time.] Time constraints notwithstanding, testing the air-explosives ratio does make some engineering sense. We simply need to make sure that we're done testing in time to repeat the process in the mine before the next reset occurs.

Dominique : We've only got about another fifteen minutes. [To Austin, with a raised eyebrow] Is this really going to work?

[Enter FAITH, reading her book.]

Faith : [Stops, and surveys the scene] Oh God. He's not going on about custard powder again, is he?

Smock: [To Austin] Hurry up then. [Grabs the box of matches] I don't want to start this all over again just cuz you're slow. [Lights a match and throws it into the tin]

Alice : [Dives for cover] It's gonna blow!

[Predictably, nothing happens.]

QLast from Conor #44

Austin : [To Alice] We need to put the custard powder into the tine and shake it first! [Puts a generous portion of custard powder into the tin, puts the lid on and shakes it up, then, whips the lid off and strikes another match into the tin]

Alice : [Just getting up again, and seeing Austin throw in the match] It's gonna blow! [Jumps for cover again]

[Again, nothing happens.]

Faith : [To Austin] Do you have any evidence or experience that suggests this is going to work?

Smock: [Puts on an amiable smile] Hey, Faith. Since you're the cleverest girl in the Realms or whatever, do you know something laying about town that we can use to make explosives? [Glancing at Austin] With better chances for success than this crack-pot scheme?

Faith : That is an entirely different situation and you know it.

Austin : [Haughtly, to Faith] There is a great deal of empirical evidence that shows that the air bourne custard particles in custard mills will explode if there is a source of ignition.

Faith : [FLicks through the book for a moment, before coming to rest on a page that she spends a few moments reading] No.

Austin : [To Faith] Is it! How?

Faith : [Flicks through her book before selecting a page] It just is, okay?

Chastity : [Peering down at the container label] I think there may be problem. This is a supply of [reads the words] low grade stale & lumpy custard powder. [Looks up] It's specially brought in for the school dinners and old peoples homes. The chances of it becoming a fine suspended powder are remote, although if we have to hurriedly cement ourselves into building [pats the container] this is just the thing.

Austin : [Really anoyed] There is nothing wrong with MY [Points at the sacks in his larder] custard powder! It's the finest in the land! You lot just don't want to be saved! [Stomps off in a huff]

Alice : God almighty! If being saved will get us away from him, then I'm sure we [huge emphasis] all want to be saved! What do we do now?

[Enter RICK, in a state of great excitement.]

Rick : H- [face drops] Do I know you? What are you doing in my house? ### It's not Rick's house, of course.

Harvey : These people are attempting to explode custard! And what has you looking so excited? You've never seemed that excited about my lectures before.

Rick : Dominique's house is on fire! We must save her, she's trapped inside! Dominique is trapped inside!

Dominique : I'm here, Rick.

Rick : Do I know you?

Smock: So I guess all we gotta do now is stay alive until morning! [Looks warily at the custard] Maybe this isn't the safest place to hang out though.

Faith : Look. I already told you, there will not be an explosion. That is a preposterous suggestion. Observe. [Lights a match] See? Absolutely no chance of -

[Kaboom.]

[Book V, Act III, Scene VIII. The Entrance to Metaplasia. SMOCK and MONTY are here, having just entered the town. It is now early morning, and LEON approaches.]

Leon : Bark! Bark! What are you doing here?

Monty : I'm afraid that we're having a bit of a bad day is what we're doing, sir. However, we have come in part to speak with Dominique. Is she at home?

Leon : [Shrugs] Pf. I suppose.

Austin : [Strolloing past, obviously writing notes for some fantastic novel he's writing, spots Monty and Smock] Oh dear! Look what the dog dragged in! [To Leon, smirking] How is you fish today?

Leon : Rotting and stinking. It will soon be ready to eat.

[Enter ALICE, wearing glasses and reading from "The Big Bok of Knowledge". She stops when she sees them.]

Alice : [To Austin] Ah! Reginald! What is going on here?

Austin : [To Faith] Ah, good day to you Faith, the dog appears to have dragged in two of Phili's more egregious creations [Gestures towards Smock and Monty]

Monty : [Politely.] Just a couple of visitors to see Dominique, ma'am. Oh, and may I congratulate you. That's a most impressive looking bok. I mean book. Ahem. [Leads the way to Dominique's.]

Alice : [Wrinkles up her nose in disgust] That one certainly seems like an idiot, Reginald. Do we really want people like that in our town?

Austin : [To Alice] Well, they say that variety is the spice of life, but I don't think these two scallywags constitute spice exactly [Ponders the visitors] Hopefully they wont stay long.

Alice : I for one find their over familiarity objectionable.

[As MONTY approaches DOMINIQUE's house, she comes out.]

Dominique : Ah! There you are.

Monty : Ahem. Yes. Only we seem to have lost two this time. Is that customary, or has something gone awry?

Clint: [Spots Monty as he walks down the street. Approaches Monty and asks] Do I know you?

Austin : [To Alice, looks worried] Indeed, their over familiarity is most concerning, someone may think that we have history with these proles! [Hastily to Dominique] I'd just like to say that we have never, ever met these proles before [Points at Monty and Smock with his posh silver topped cane, then takes a few steps back from them to stand closer to Dominique]

Monty : [To Clint.] I'm afraid not, sir, as this fellow [Indicates Austin] has just most priggishly clarified.

Dominique : It's not that uncommon for more than one person to disappear at a time, although it's rarely more than two. [Takes Clint, Austin and Alice aside, and talks to them briefly, with each of them taking it in turns to give gasped sighs] Now, do you all understand?

Clint : Do I know you?

Dominique : Sigh.

Austin : It seems like we're in quite a spot of bother. [To Alice] Is there anything in your book that may help us get out of this time loop?

Alice : [Flicks through the book] The obvious answer is to simply leave the town. It is crucial to discover what is causing the loop.

Smock: [Steps out from hiding behind Monty] Well, I still think it's Adam.

Clint : Who's Adam? Do I know him?

Alice : [Flicks through the Bok, before selecting a page] Dominique's ex-boyfriend, we threw him out of the town when he attacked her.

Dominique : Sigh. And how does that help us?

Alice : [Thumbs through the book, before stopping, and closing it] I don't know, it just does!

Smock: [To Dominique] Well, tell us more about him. What was he doing here? Did he arrive with you? Was he studying something here? Did he leave anything behind? Did he like your eggy bread? What colour were his eyes?

Dominique : Blue, yes, no, me, no, visiting.

Smock: Studying you? Why? Did you do something special?

Dominique : Click-click! I told you, I'll tell you all about it when you're older. I just meant that he was courting me. He is a magic user, though.

Austin : [Haughtly, to Smock] As Alice said, the simplest thing to do is to try leaving town. So let's go! [Moves towards the exit]

Alice : [Falling in with Austin's pace] Honestly! Some people. [To Clint] Rick! Summons the townspeople at once, we are all leaving.

Clint : Uh, do I know you?

Alice : Just ring your bell.

[CLINT walks out into the street, ringing a large bell quite loudly, causing people to come from various houses.]

Alice : [Points at Austin with the Bok] Ew! You've got something on your sleeve, Reginald!

Smock: [Grabbing at Austin's sleeve] No! You can't. Last time we lost nearly a whole day doing that! There's a barrier that's stopping us leaving.

Austin : [Very pale, stare fixed on Smock's hand, breathing irregularily, almost frozen to the spot. To Smock] Unhand me, you vile detritus!

Chastity : [Appears with a tray of scones] Warm homemade scones anyone?

Smock: [Frowns forlornly, but lets go of Austin] But I don't want to be stuck here forever. Please. We already tried that.

Alice : [Dramatically holds her hand up to Chastity] No time for scones, Godmother, this is an emergency, we have a town to evacuate! [Looks at the scones] Oh, you have them already buttered? Uh, well, maybe we have time for a few. [To the others, by way of explanation] The Book recommends the eating hot buttery scones whenever possible.

Chastity : Perhaps Adam left something in Dominiques house?

Austin : [Starts breathing more normally, and relaxes, brushing his sleeve with a handkerchief. Whispers something to Alice] Well, what else can we do?

Alice : [Checks the book] Uh, nothing.

Clint : Has that book ever been helpful? [Grabs it off Alice and flicks through the pages, before showing them to everyone else] Hey! This isn't a proper book at all, look, all the pages are blank!

Alice : [Grabs it back] You're just not using it properly!

Smock: We have to find some way to break the curse Adam left, if that's what this is about. [To Alice] What does the book say about curses?

Dominique : No, and he got very angry when I tried to ask him about it.

Chastity : Do you know what was he doing with the lab equipment?

Austin : [To Clint, sneering] You have to be able to read to use a book! [To Dominique] So, did Adam leave you a gift or item of some sort? An amulet perhaps [Checks his nails in an 'as if' fashion]

Dominique : Nothing! Just a bunch of smashed up lab equipment. There's really nothing of interest there.

Austin : [To Dominique] Perhaps the smashed up lab equipment was intended to be some form of time machine, [Writing furiously] And when it was smashed up it became, unstable, and caused this time loop? Could we take a look please?

Clint : [Sniggers] Maybe the big book can tell us something about it?

Alice : [Annoyed] Do I know you?

Dominique : No, I'm afraid I threw all his stuff out when it happened. ### In an earlier scene it was established that the altercation with ### Adam happened at least a week before this day started ### loooping

Harvey : [Wandering along talking to someone out of view] Yes, my lecture is at ten, yes, ten! And not a minute later! [Looks around] Ah, hello Dominique, Godmother. Did I hear you say you threw things away, superb! A fine example to set after my Cleanliness Is Next To Philiness lecture of last week! [Looks very pleased with himself]

Alice : Maybe she threw away your handouts?

Harvey : [Panic stricken for a moment] No, no, I don't think so, she'd never do such a thing! [Sees Monty and Smock] Ah, strangers, I do hope you can attend my lecture tonight on Punctuality at ten sharp?

Dominique : Of course I wouldn't, Alf.

Alice : I thought the lecture was on punctuality?

Smock: [To Dominique] Has everyone ever been punctual?

Monty : [To Dominique.] May I ask what sort of laboratory apparatus it appeared to be? Alchemical, mechanical, or something else?

Alf : [Sadly to Smock] No.

Dominique : [Dismissively] Some sort of alchemical type thing, I don't really know. If he has done something magical, it is outside of the town.

Monty : Ahem. As excellent as the idea of investigating his activities outside of town may be, we face the small difficulty of apparently being unable to leave in order to do so. Is there anywhere within our achievable reach that he might have enacted some part of this presumed spell-trap?

Dominique : No, he would probably have done it from the mine. I don't understand why other people get sucked in, though, because it does beg the question, what happens to those who get replaced?

Smock: [To Dominique] What time is it when you pass out or die or whatever?

Dominique : If I stay in the house, always at 10.30, but it can be later if I try to avoid it.

Monty : Well, we could have another go at collapsing the mine, seeing as we have all day to engineer it. As to what happens to those replaced... perchance they return to the normal world on the outside of town, perhaps they simply cease... or they may become used as fuel in the same fashion as a number of other malignant individuals have engineered. Best to break the cycle rather than gamble on which of those it might be, as I'm sure you'll agree.

Dominique : Okay, that's a good idea. We've never tried that before, the question is how. ### We can count on the help of the townspeople here, and won't ### play out how this is done (assuming it is done), so let's get ### any plan sorted now

Smock: Are we gonna try custard? Seems it was explosive after all...

Alice : Explosive custard? Outrageous!

Clint: [Enthusiastically] Do it! Blow it up!

Austin : [To Smock] That is a surprisingly good idea. I have a supply of custard powder, and should be able to engineer the explosion.

Harvey : And if it doesn't work, we'll all get fed!

Monty : Right! Let's get too it, then! [Along with the rest, sees to the appropriate acquisition and disposition of the custard powder within the mine, ensuring that appropriate safety precautions are taken this time.]

Alice : This isn't going to be dangerous, is it? Where will we be? where everyone

Austin : [To Alice] Well, obviously we should all be outside of the mine, away from the direct blast area infront of the mine entrance and clear of any buildings or cliffs etc that may fall duee to the shockwave.

Clint: [To Smock] How close do you need to be to cast your spell?

Smock: Are we gonna try custard? Seems it was explosive after all...

Alice : Explosive custard? Outrageous!

Clint: [Enthusiastically] Do it! Blow it up!

Austin : [To Smock] That is a surprisingly good idea. I have a supply of custard powder, and should be able to engineer the explosion.

Harvey : And if it doesn't work, we'll all get fed!

Monty : Right! Let's get too it, then! [Along with the rest, sees to the appropriate acquisition and disposition of the custard powder within the mine, ensuring that appropriate safety precautions are taken this time.]

Alice : This isn't going to be dangerous, is it? Where will we be? where everyone

Austin : [To Alice] Well, obviously we should all be outside of the mine, away from the direct blast area infront of the mine entrance and clear of any buildings or cliffs etc that may fall duee to the shockwave.

Clint: [To Smock] How close do you need to be to cast your spell?

Smock: [To Clint] Forty yards. [To Austin] How big is this blast area thingy going to be?

Alice : [Consults the Bok] Too big!

Smock: [Frowns at Alice] That book doesn't even say anything! [To Clint] I s'pose I could do it from up to one-hundred-and-twenty yards, but I don't think I've ever tried it that far. I might be less accurate.

Austin : Most of the blast will be directly out of the mine entrance, we should be safe thirty feet to the side of the mine, but we should also hide behind some form of barrier to protect us from shrapnel. Sand bags, or barrels of water, or some such will suffice.

Chastity : Well we should manage the sand bags at least. I have quite a few large empty flour sacks from all my cooking.

Austin : [To Chastity] Excellent! We can fill the sacks with soil or rocks, if there is no sand.

Alice : [Dramatically] To the bomb making equipment!

[Cut to a montage of shots of people preparing for the explosion, interspersed with a number of ALICE trying on various hats. Eventually, at about 10PM that night, everyone is satisfied, and the entire population of the town is gathered behind some sandbags, wearing nuclear test type goggles.]

Monty : Everyone ready? Good. Smock, fire when ready. [To Dominique, brightly.] And if this doesn't work, it will be the most dramatic firey death yet.

Smock: [Rolls up her sleeves, looking quite maniacal with the goggles, her disheveled hair and a gleeful smile] Is the custard in there yet?

Chastity : It should be [Looking round the towns folk, finally resting on Harvey] Unless someone couldn't help themselves! [To Monty] Let us just hope that if we all die a firey death that it doesn't work. [Nervously peeps over the barrier. In a hopeful voice] I don't suppose it's too late to take up religion? Pah, never a member of the clergy about when you need them!

Smock: Here it goes!

Chastity : [Covers her ears] Well I'm not clearing up the mess if this goes wrong. this goes

Monty : [Ensures that he is safely ducked behind the sandbags whilst Smock unleashes the fury of the flames.]

[SMOCK mutters her incantation, and everyone waits with baited breath.]

Alice : Did it go off? [Peeks up over the top of the sandbags

Kaboom. ALICE ducks down again, face covered in custard.]

Alice : I think it worked.

Austin : [With his umbrella up to avoid being covered in falling custard] I doo believe it did. Let us go and inspect the damage. [Carefully steps out from behind the barrier]

Smock: [Smearing bits of burnt custard off her face] Wow... Let's do that again!

Monty : I would remind you that the time of Dominique's demise is shortly approaching. For her to be anywhere near the site of a recent explosion is unlikely to be safe in the event that this did not succeed, and anyone else in the vicinity would be placing themselves in undue peril. However, seeing as the rest of us have little to lose, perhaps Dominique might wait here where it is as safe as can be reasonably managed whilst others investigate?

Dominique : Sounds good, Monty.

[Everyone else starts making their way through the knee deep custard, squelching towards the mine entrance.]

Harvey : Ow! [Turns and looks in dismay to see that Alice has thrown a custard ball at him] That's not funny, that good have got in someone's eye!

[Slap. HARVEY gets hit in the eye by a custard covered rock, thrown by Q.]

Q : [Runs up and kicks Monty on the shin] Hahaha! Boot! [Starts squelching away]

Smock: Want me to get him for you, Monty? [Looks particularly eager and ready to chase after Q, hanging out for the slightest encouragment.]

Smock: Are we gonna try custard? Seems it was explosive after all...

Alice : Explosive custard? Outrageous!

Clint: [Enthusiastically] Do it! Blow it up!

Austin : [To Smock] That is a surprisingly good idea. I have a supply of custard powder, and should be able to engineer the explosion.

Harvey : And if it doesn't work, we'll all get fed!

Monty : Right! Let's get too it, then! [Along with the rest, sees to the appropriate acquisition and disposition of the custard powder within the mine, ensuring that appropriate safety precautions are taken this time.]

Alice : This isn't going to be dangerous, is it? Where will we be? where everyone

Austin : [To Alice] Well, obviously we should all be outside of the mine, away from the direct blast area infront of the mine entrance and clear of any buildings or cliffs etc that may fall duee to the shockwave.

Clint: [To Smock] How close do you need to be to cast your spell?

Smock: [To Clint] Forty yards. [To Austin] How big is this blast area thingy going to be?

Alice : [Consults the Bok] Too big!

Smock: [Frowns at Alice] That book doesn't even say anything! [To Clint] I s'pose I could do it from up to one-hundred-and-twenty yards, but I don't think I've ever tried it that far. I might be less accurate.

Austin : Most of the blast will be directly out of the mine entrance, we should be safe thirty feet to the side of the mine, but we should also hide behind some form of barrier to protect us from shrapnel. Sand bags, or barrels of water, or some such will suffice.

Chastity : Well we should manage the sand bags at least. I have quite a few large empty flour sacks from all my cooking.

Austin : [To Chastity] Excellent! We can fill the sacks with soil or rocks, if there is no sand.

Alice : [Dramatically] To the bomb making equipment!

[Cut to a montage of shots of people preparing for the explosion, interspersed with a number of ALICE trying on various hats. Eventually, at about 10PM that night, everyone is satisfied, and the entire population of the town is gathered behind some sandbags, wearing nuclear test type goggles.]

Monty : Everyone ready? Good. Smock, fire when ready. [To Dominique, brightly.] And if this doesn't work, it will be the most dramatic firey death yet.

Smock: [Rolls up her sleeves, looking quite maniacal with the goggles, her disheveled hair and a gleeful smile] Is the custard in there yet?

Chastity : It should be [Looking round the towns folk, finally resting on Harvey] Unless someone couldn't help themselves! [To Monty] Let us just hope that if we all die a firey death that it doesn't work. [Nervously peeps over the barrier. In a hopeful voice] I don't suppose it's too late to take up religion? Pah, never a member of the clergy about when you need them!

Smock: Here it goes!

Chastity : [Covers her ears] Well I'm not clearing up the mess if this goes wrong. this goes

Monty : [Ensures that he is safely ducked behind the sandbags whilst Smock unleashes the fury of the flames.]

[SMOCK mutters her incantation, and everyone waits with baited breath.]

Alice : Did it go off? [Peeks up over the top of the sandbags

Kaboom. ALICE ducks down again, face covered in custard.]

Alice : I think it worked.

Austin : [With his umbrella up to avoid being covered in falling custard] I doo believe it did. Let us go and inspect the damage. [Carefully steps out from behind the barrier]

Smock: [Smearing bits of burnt custard off her face] Wow... Let's do that again!

Monty : I would remind you that the time of Dominique's demise is shortly approaching. For her to be anywhere near the site of a recent explosion is unlikely to be safe in the event that this did not succeed, and anyone else in the vicinity would be placing themselves in undue peril. However, seeing as the rest of us have little to lose, perhaps Dominique might wait here where it is as safe as can be reasonably managed whilst others investigate?

Dominique : Sounds good, Monty.

[Everyone else starts making their way through the knee deep custard, squelching towards the mine entrance.]

Harvey : Ow! [Turns and looks in dismay to see that Alice has thrown a custard ball at him] That's not funny, that good have got in someone's eye!

[Slap. HARVEY gets hit in the eye by a custard covered rock, thrown by Q.]

Q : [Runs up and kicks Monty on the shin] Hahaha! Boot! [Starts squelching away]

Smock: Want me to get him for you, Monty? [Looks particularly eager and ready to chase after Q, hanging out for the slightest encouragment.]

Clint: [Surveying the damage] Anybody feel any different?

Alice : My feet are wet.

[The entrance to the mine is well and truly blocked, by a combination of rocks and congealed custard.]

Chastity : You mean apart from slightly stickier? Perhaps the test would be for us to approach the barrier?

Clint: [Looks at the entrance triumphantly] Well, that was easy. Guess everything's fixed now. [Looks at Alice, confused] Wait, do I know you?

Alice : Yes, unfortunately.

Austin : I take it that as I am still, the one and only, Reginald Fudgeworthy, nothing has changed with respect to your 'time-loop'?

Monty : No, that's quite all right, Smock. Besides which, I have this ominous feeling that you'll end up becoming that one if we haven't succeeded here. But as to the other suggestion, approaching the barrier would be appropriate. If things have changed in any way, that would give us some indication.

Alice : [Carefully checks the Bok] Surely we'll only know once we've gone passed the time that the loop jumps back to the starting point?

Chastity : [To Dominique] Well if this has worked, I hope you managed to get your valuables out of your house, they won't be there tomorrow.

Alice : Uh, Dominique is back there. [Points in the direction of the sandbags]

Monty : Yes, and it's best that she stay there for safety's sake. Now, let's see about that barrier at the edge of town! We're almost out of time anyway if this hasn't worked, so there's little to lose. [Leads the way to the edge of town to test the barrier.]

Austin : [Looks concerned towards the sand bags where Dominique is] We should make sure that nothing happens to Dominique before your time thing kills her, then doesn't repeat, if you know what I mean [Goes to make sure Dominique is safe]

Harvey : Why yes, we should check to make sure Dominique is safe and well! Couldn't live with myself if anything happened to the darling lady!

Alice : Absolutely! It would be just awful.

[Everyone heads over, but there's no sign of DOMINIQUE behind the sand bags.]

Alice : Over there! Look! [Points at where Dominique is lying face down in the custard]

Austin : Oh my sweet Philli! [Runs over to Dominique, turns her over and attempts to resusitate Dominique]

Harvey : [Aghast] Oh my goodness! We've killed her! We've killed Dominique! [Runs over to Austin and Dominique]

Monty : [Diverts course to Dominique as the fuss arises.] How? We were nowhere near her when this happened! Whatever happened, that is. Ahem. Unless someone has a mighty strong custard-pitching arm.

Harvey : [Angrily] Perhaps she was caught in the blast! Perhaps not all the custard exploded at once and there was a second explosion when she was near?

Monty : [Shakes his head.] No, that only happens in a confined space, which it certainly isn't out here. [Sighs.] Dominique had repeatedly stated that during these repeat-days, she expired regardless of attempted precautions. If it has happened again, then the cycle was not broken. [Hopefully.] But perhaps resuscitation will work? From what she described, it may not have had the chance to be tried previously.

[DOMINIQUE is very definitely dead. There are no obvious marks on her, although it looks quite possible that she drowned.]

Harvey : [Sits down] That poor, dear creature! Killed by custard! What an inglorious way to go!

Monty : [Solemnly.] I agree, sir. It is quite a tragic demise. [Regards the grim scene for several moments, then glances in the direction of Dominique's house to see whether there is a fire there.]

[The house isn't on fire.]

Alice : [Disturbed at the sight of the body] What happens now?

Austin : [Stops trying to resus Dominnique, looking utterly shocked, lossed and forlorn all at the same time, covered in custard, a tear rolling down his face. To Dominique, tragically] Alas, fate has taken thee. [Puts her down and covers her with his jacket]

Monty : [Grimly.] Dominique mentioned ten-thirty as the time of her repeat demise and the return of the cycle to the beginning. What time is it now? If we're substantially past that, then perhaps the cycle is broken. It would be a small comfort, but at least then her death would not have been in vain.

Alice : [Consults the Bok] It's nearly 11pm now. What'll we do? Just go to bed?

Monty : Given the stress which we're all under, a good rest may be just the thing. Although we may still wish to see whether exiting the town has become possible first.

Alice : [Taking off one of her shoes to pour some custard out of it] Okay, let's go. [Puts the shoe back on, and heads off, but with the shoe getting stuck in the custard]

Austin : [Staring at his hands as if the custard were blood] I'm going home for a shower and some clean clothes.

Chastity : [sighs] It'll take a good deal of scrubbing to get these stains out. An overnight soak should help. [To Austin] I thought we were going to see if we can get out of the town?

Austin : [To Alice] We may have to wear swellington boots to avoid the custard. [Takes a deeps breath and sighs at the thought]

Alice : No, we're going to go home and wash all this filthy custard off ourselves before we walk back out through the filthy custard to see if we can get out of the town.

Alice : [Rolls her eyes] Why don't we just try to leave first? You can have a shower in your custard filled swellingtons later.

Clint: [Nods at Alice] Yeah, you can hose down any old time! Let's get moving.

Austin : [Blinks, thinking about Alice's proposition] Excellent idea, my dear. Will you be joining me?

Alice : [Gives Austin a smile] I don't think there'll be room, what with Rick there too.

[Everyone starts heading out of town.]

### We need some rough idea of marching order. The road is wide enough to fit ### six across. Remember, the entire town is here, but we just need to know ### where the PCs are

Austin : [To Alice] I think the entrance to twon is quite wide enough for several people.

Clint: [Takes the lead. To Austin] Do I know you?

Austin : [To Clint] No.

Alice : Good question, Rick, does anyone [emphasis] really know anyone?

[Everyone heads out of town, with people talking away, mainly lamenting DOMINIQUE.]

Alice : [After a few minutes] Hey! Where did the two strangers go?

[There is no sign of SMOCK or MONTY.]

Chastity : [Takes up position a couple of rows from the front. To Austin] Well if this all works then apparently you will soon!

Austin : [To Chastity] I expect that he will still smell just as fishy.

Clint: [To Austin, offended] Who, me?! I smell great! [sniffs underarms, staggers, and sputters weakly] Just great! Last from Heather #107

Chastity : So great that the strangers have gone! Why do I get the feeling that the whole custard bomb idea didn't work?

Clint: [Nods soberly] You don't think it killed those two, do you?

Alice : How could it kill them? They were with us a second ago!

Austin : [To Clint] Why don't you just shut your ignorant mouth! Alice is quite correct, they were both alive and well long after the explosion. [Nods aggreeably to Alice]

Alice : I think they cast a disappearing spell, and are, at this very moment, back in the town, stealing all of our things! Thank Phili I have the Big Book with me!

Clint: [Scowls at Alice] All right, what do YOU think happened to them?!

Austin : [To Alice, nodding towards Clint] Sheessh! What an idiot!

Clint: [To Austin, angrily] Watch your mouth! I don't want to have to beat you to a pulp, but I will! [waves his fist threateningly but keeps his distance]

Alice : Do we know him? [Starts heading back to the town]

Harvey : [Looking at his watch, goes a little pale] I shall never live this down! Missing my own lecture on punctuality! [Blushes profusely]

Chastity : [Gesturing round the crowd] If it's any consolation everyone else did too!

Alice : Come on, let's check out the town.

[Exit ALL, back towards the town.]

[Book V, Act III, Scene IX. A jail cell. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, CLINT, HARVEY and MONTY are here. The cell is about 10' x 20', and appears to be underground. Everyone is dressed in their normal clothes, but all weapons have been removed. The area outside the cell is a corridor with a number of other cells, each about the same size, and with bars at the front that stretch the width of the cell. They are all empty. The party are all lying on the ground, regaining consciousness.]

Alice : [Stirring] Hey! What's going on? [Looks at Austin] Looks like we found Austin - again!

Clint: [Yawning and scratching himself obscenely. To Alice unenthusiastically, looking at Austin] Great. [Looks around] Hey, where's the kid?

Chastity : [Sits up and rubs her eyes] Well its good to have the party together again. [Looks around] Although we've lost someone else. [Looks around again. Accusingly at Alice] What trouble have you got us into this time?

Alice : Sigh. As soon as we find one, we lose another! Looks like we stopped the time loop, anyway.

Alice : [Shocked] What? I didn't do anything! It's Austin who disappeared!

Monty : [Sitting up.] All of us did, I believe. Except, perhaps, for Smock. I was apparently the last to become absorbed, whilst Clint and Alice both joined the town one cycle before me. [Pauses and looks at Austin.] Of course, Mr. Sleaze might not recall any of it, given his disappearance prior to our discoveries.

Harvey : Well, we may have stopped the time loop, but at the cost of that poor, dear girl! [Looks around] I say, we seem to be trapped in a cell!

Alice : [Finds a cup and rattles it against the bars] Free the Queens View six! [Enter JOSE, a hideous looking zombie.] href=http://www.queens-view.com/Cast/jose.html>Jose

Jose : [Comes down the corridor, draging his leg behind him at a disturbing angle. Waves at the party as he approaches.] Hola, amigos! [Stops in front of the cell and peers in with his one good eye.] Which one of you is Adam?

Monty : I don't believe that any of us are Adam, unless he's here among us in disguise. Actually, we'd rather assumed that he might be responsible for our presence in this cell.

Clint : Adam? I'm gonna break his face! Where the hell is he?

Alice : What's your business with him? He your skin cream supplier or something?

Jose : [To Monty] No. You're too uptight. [Looks to the other party members.] Don't hold out on me, Adam. I know you're in there.

Jose : Why would I tell you? That's sensitive information. [Glares at Alice] Only Adam will know. The punishment for trying to escape would be beyond imagining... I mean... [Twitches] What pink elephant?

Alice : Uh, the [pause] pink elephant that Adam said would kill you unless you set us free?

Jose : Unfortunately for you, I'm already dead.

Monty : Or perhaps it collects stuffed toys? [Peers at the zombie.] It does look like the type.

Jose : Well we do have the Gallery of Victims. [Smirks hideously] Taxidermy is one of my hobbies. [Looks past Monty to Harvey.] Como se llama?

Harvey : Ah! I speak the lingo this chappie is spouting. [Loudly and very slowly] Yes please, we would like to see your llama, and any other livestock you wish to sell?

Jose : [Looking confused. To Chastity] One of you are Adam?

Jose : You seis are the livestock. [Looks between Austin, Harvey, Monty and Clint] Por favor, Adam! I will save you from the slaughter if you will help us.

Chastity : [To Jose] Excuse me, [Gesturing to Alice and herself] But what about us girls.

Alice : We're both Adam!

Monty : [Murmurs.] Up and Adam, in fact. At least, compared to a few minutes ago...

Alice : Come on! Who are you? Why are we here?

Chastity : [To Monty, looking him in a bemused fashion] Please, Mr. Giles make sense. [To Jose] What have you done with the small girl.

Jose : [Thinks for a moment.] You both are Adam? [Pauses, then, as though finally understanding,] Ah, you both are Adam. [Smiles, but it comes off looking more like a leer.] Si! Well, I am Jose. I, and Enrique, are in charge of you! And you all are here to feed the Nameless One. At His convenience, you will die a torturous death and He will consume your souls. Then I will preserve your body and put it in the Gallery. I think I will set you in a pastoral scene... si, with a few sheep and maybe a monkey... [Trails off muttering to himself.]

Jose : [To Chastity] La chica pequeña? I have no small girl.

Chastity : Well we used to, and now she's suddenly dissappeared. [Peers past Jose] How did we get here anyway?

Jose : You were with Domin... in a quiet, repetitive town somewhere, no? [Blinks] That is where the souls are harvested from. It is a magic I do not comprehend that brought you here. I have a theory that there is a giant webbed hand [demonstrates] that reaches out from the sky to pluck you from your earthly existence. [Dramatic pause.] But Enrique would know. He is a genius!

Monty : Perhaps you might summon Enrique here so that he may give answer? Ahem. And as a point of curiosity, why did you hesitate to say Dominique's name?

Austin : [To Jose] May we speak to Enrique? I sounds like he could solve this problem.

Chastity : Or perhaps you could take us to Enrique. He sounds very knowledgeable.

Jose : [Looks blankly at Monty for a moment.] I said nothing. Nada. I know no Dominique. [Looks around for anyone who might be listening. Leans closer. To Monty.] Do you know Dominique? [To Chastity and Austin, with a smile.] I know not where Enrique is. He is probably inventing something brilliant. Or composing a wonderful ballad for our band. He is a genius, you know! Maybe he will come by soon. To see Adam. [Grins at Chastity and Alice.]

[The main door to the corridor swings open. Enter ENRIQUE, another disgusting looking demon/zombie type, wearing nothing but an enormous red codpiece, with leather straps from it coming up over his shoulders.]

Enrique : [Dramatically] Are you ready for tonight, Jose?

Enrique

Jose : Si, si, Enrique! [To party] This is Enrique - he is a genius. [Back to Enrique] Here is Adamses! [Points to Chastity and Alice]

Enrique : [Rubs his hands together] Excellent, Jose. Excellent. Then everything is in place for tonight. Oh yes, we are all ready for tonight.

Alice : Tonight? What's happening tonight? What are you going to do?

Enrique : [Dramatically] The same thing we do every night [even more dramatically] try to take over the world!

Monty : [Nonplussed.] Ahem. Yes. And how do you plan to do that? In a manner different from prior nights where the objective was apparently not met?

Enrique : [Laughs at Monty, a short humourless one, followed by another, much longer one, and yet another, where he is roaring laughing, and eventually stops, turning to Jose] Jose, are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Jose : I think so Enrique, but I find scratching just makes it worse.

Enrique : [Gives Jose a puzzled look, before giving a shiver and turning back to the party] We will take over the world through the medium of song!

Austin : [To Enrique and Jose, watching them closeley to see if their expressions give anythig away] You guys don't happen to know Dominique, Garaganfarhur, Athlackey, Sarasate or the Bringer, by any chance do you? They're old buddies of ours, I just thought they might be hanging out around here some place trying to take over the world.

Jose : Enrique knows everything! [Proudly] But I know Dominique.

Austin : [To Jose, sleuth style] Hmm, indeed, but do either of you know Garaganfarhur? Or do you work for some other [Stresses, prevocatively] lesser, demon?

Monty : [Brightly.] And willing to mention her name now! How then do you happen to know her?

Enrique : Careful, Jose, he is trying to trick you in naming He who shall not be named. We know Dominique because we helped imprison her here, as part of a diabolical plot to take over the world.

Monty : [To Austin.] A lesser one, by the sounds of it. Garaganfarhur would have come up with a far grander component to his scheme, not something so apparently amateur.

Jose : Gasp! [To Austin] Is it true? Were you trying to trick me? For shame! [Mutters to himself] I was told never to trust the weedy ones... [To Monty] Dominique is doomed for eternity! [Whispers] She was a very naughty girl. [Scowls at Monty's 'amateur' comment] How rude! I have no choice now but to put your soon lifeless body in the most dreaded section of the Gallery... [Dramatically] With the mimes!

Austin : [To the party] 'She who will not be named', could be Trindle, in disguise?

Monty : [Nonplussed again.] Mimes who are dead, stuffed, and mounted, and who therefore won't be doing any miming to speak of? How quaint. [Pauses.] I thought you said that victims here had their souls torn out first? You mean to tell me that you willingly work for someone who associates so deeply with mimes as to covet their souls? [Frowns thoughtfully.] I'm not sure whether that makes you or the one you work for the more depraved.

Jose : He does not covet their souls. He needs to eat them. As you will be eaten.

Enrique : Unless you tell us which of you is Adam. And it is us are the more depraved. Yes, we are even more depraved than the master himself! [Grabs Jose, and licks his eyeball, with a loud slurping sound]

Alice : Ew! I think I'm gonna be sick!

Enrique : See?

Monty : Well, considering the phrase, "you are what you eat," and what his mime-consumption makes him, you really ought to reconsider your employment. However, unless it happens to be Seth himself - whose personal acquaintance we've made some time in the past... well, we're rather unlikely to be impressed. Ahem. Although if it's Dr. Jerome Trindle, insert miscellaneous titles here, then we do have a bone to pick with him on other matters.

Clint: [To Jose] Huh. If that's gonna hurt, could you at least pass us some booze to ease the pain?

Enrique : That is precisely what we are doing. And you, my lucky and soon to be enebriated friends will help us. Jose, fetch some alcohol.

Clint: [Gives Enrique a thumbs up] Enrique, you're all right! Got any grub, while you're at it? You don't want us to be all bony and pointy and hard to chew, right?

Jose : [Blinks and smiles at Enrique] I can see so much better now! [Lopes off to find some alcohol]

Enrique : You fool! I have no wish to eat you! And if I did, everyone knows, the bony bits are the nicest part.

Monty : [Distractedly.] The chewy marrow inside the hard calcified shell, I suppose?

Enrique : [Nods approvingly, but stops] Jose! [Grabs a fistful of sandwiches, mashing them up as he does] Damn you, Jose! I said crotchets! Crotchets!

Jose : [Returning with a small wooden crate.] Here you are. [Pulls out a large jar filled with amber liquid and passes it to Clint. Notably, it has an eyeball suspended inside. To Clint, encouragingly] I believe that is a fine vintage. [Hands over a plate of assorted sandwiches cut in the shape of semi-quavers.] And these are most delicious!

Clint: [Takes the jar from Jose and sniffs it suspiciously] Oh, wait! Where are my manners? Ladies first! [hands the jar to Alice]

Clint: [Looks into the floating eye for a moment, shrugs, and then takes a swig]

Alice : [Holds a hand up] No thanks, Stinky. I don't drink anything that's looking at me.

Enrique : We don't have the time, Jose. Just straighten them out.

Jose : [Looks devastated. To Enrique, apologetically] Ilo siento, Enrique! [Collects the remains of the sandwiches from the floor] I must have got distracted. Shall I make them anew?

Clint: [Chokes a little and rasps] Great hooch. [Takes another swig. To Jose] Fried rat or baked?

Jose : Si, of course. [Makes a valiant attempt at fixing up the crushed sandwiches and hands the pathetic looking final product to the party] I hope you like rat. fluid

Jose : [To Clint] Grilled. Well, maybe a little over-done. Burnt, in fact. [Pauses] Charcoal, you could say.

Enrique : This is wasting time! Which of you is Adam?

Clint: [Hurls the eyeball hooch at Enrique] None of us, freak!

Jose : There will be all the carrots and teapots you could ever want!

Enrique : [Deftly dodging the jar, which smashes behind him] In that case, which of you wishes to help us trying to take over the world?

Enrique : Quiet Jose! This is a time for delicate negotiation.

Clint: [To Enrique] All right, what's in it for us?

Enrique : Freedom, my pungent and aggressive friend, freedom! And all the the Ricky and Jose records you can eat.

Austin : [Straightening a cuff] I take it that you have an album ready to take over the world with, perhaps if we could hear some of the track we would be motivated to help you in your quest to take over the world!

Enrique : Oh no, my well dressed friend, for I will not have you stealing our soulful country ballads, and pre-empting my plan to take over the world. The choice is simple, either you remained incarcerated within the bowels of this warren like, most heinous, brutal and terrible cornucopia of suffering and anguish, or you will be adroit and understanding, and display a keenness to facilitate the quest to flood the earth with rhythmic and euphonious creations. Now, what do you say?

Alice : That depends.

Enrique : On what?

Alice : On what the hell all that means!

Jose : It means... Um. [Looks to Enrique] What does it mean?

Enrique : [Sigh!] If they don't help us, they'll die.

Monty : [To Alice and Jose.] Ahem. He is verbosely saying that either we can help him play a catchy tune or we can rot here in this cell. [More to Alice.] Your prior experience may prove useful here. That rendition of "Do the Crucifiction" was quite good.

Clint: What do we have to do, exactly?

Jose : You must worship a giant frog as your pagan god! Oh, wait. That was last week.

Enrique : You need to kill the demon. Don't worry, my friends, it won't be difficult. When he's in his natural dimension, you can simply creep up and kill him, for he will not be able to see you.

Enrique : Quiet, Jose! Or you'll inadvertantly let them know of our plan to pose as Heather Froglear on our quest to take over the world. [To the party] She's really rather lovely, you know, and wears such delightful dresses. [Shakes his head sadly] The young ladies of today are cheated, yes, cheated by society's abandonment of petticoats.

Alice : Come on! Who are you? Why are we here?

Chastity : [To Monty, looking him in a bemused fashion] Please, Mr. Giles make sense. [To Jose] What have you done with the small girl.

Jose : [Thinks for a moment.] You both are Adam? [Pauses, then, as though finally understanding,] Ah, you both are Adam. [Smiles, but it comes off looking more like a leer.] Si! Well, I am Jose. I, and Enrique, are in charge of you! And you all are here to feed the Nameless One. At His convenience, you will die a torturous death and He will consume your souls. Then I will preserve your body and put it in the Gallery. I think I will set you in a pastoral scene... si, with a few sheep and maybe a monkey... [Trails off muttering to himself.]

Jose : [To Chastity] La chica pequeña? I have no small girl.

Chastity : Well we used to, and now she's suddenly dissappeared. [Peers past Jose] How did we get here anyway?

Jose : You were with Domin... in a quiet, repetitive town somewhere, no? [Blinks] That is where the souls are harvested from. It is a magic I do not comprehend that brought you here. I have a theory that there is a giant webbed hand [demonstrates] that reaches out from the sky to pluck you from your earthly existence. [Dramatic pause.] But Enrique would know. He is a genius!

Monty : Perhaps you might summon Enrique here so that he may give answer? Ahem. And as a point of curiosity, why did you hesitate to say Dominique's name?

Austin : [To Jose] May we speak to Enrique? I sounds like he could solve this problem.

Chastity : Or perhaps you could take us to Enrique. He sounds very knowledgeable.

Jose : [Looks blankly at Monty for a moment.] I said nothing. Nada. I know no Dominique. [Looks around for anyone who might be listening. Leans closer. To Monty.] Do you know Dominique? [To Chastity and Austin, with a smile.] I know not where Enrique is. He is probably inventing something brilliant. Or composing a wonderful ballad for our band. He is a genius, you know! Maybe he will come by soon. To see Adam. [Grins at Chastity and Alice.]

[The main door to the corridor swings open. Enter ENRIQUE, another disgusting looking demon/zombie type, wearing nothing but an enormous red codpiece, with leather straps from it coming up over his shoulders.]

Enrique : [Dramatically] Are you ready for tonight, Jose?

Enrique

Jose : Si, si, Enrique! [To party] This is Enrique - he is a genius. [Back to Enrique] Here is Adamses! [Points to Chastity and Alice]

Enrique : [Rubs his hands together] Excellent, Jose. Excellent. Then everything is in place for tonight. Oh yes, we are all ready for tonight.

Alice : Tonight? What's happening tonight? What are you going to do?

Enrique : [Dramatically] The same thing we do every night [even more dramatically] try to take over the world!

Monty : [Nonplussed.] Ahem. Yes. And how do you plan to do that? In a manner different from prior nights where the objective was apparently not met?

Enrique : [Laughs at Monty, a short humourless one, followed by another, much longer one, and yet another, where he is roaring laughing, and eventually stops, turning to Jose] Jose, are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Jose : I think so Enrique, but I find scratching just makes it worse.

Enrique : [Gives Jose a puzzled look, before giving a shiver and turning back to the party] We will take over the world through the medium of song!

Austin : [To Enrique and Jose, watching them closeley to see if their expressions give anythig away] You guys don't happen to know Dominique, Garaganfarhur, Athlackey, Sarasate or the Bringer, by any chance do you? They're old buddies of ours, I just thought they might be hanging out around here some place trying to take over the world.

Jose : Enrique knows everything! [Proudly] But I know Dominique.

Austin : [To Jose, sleuth style] Hmm, indeed, but do either of you know Garaganfarhur? Or do you work for some other [Stresses, prevocatively] lesser, demon?

Monty : [Brightly.] And willing to mention her name now! How then do you happen to know her?

Enrique : Careful, Jose, he is trying to trick you in naming He who shall not be named. We know Dominique because we helped imprison her here, as part of a diabolical plot to take over the world.

Monty : [To Austin.] A lesser one, by the sounds of it. Garaganfarhur would have come up with a far grander component to his scheme, not something so apparently amateur.

Jose : Gasp! [To Austin] Is it true? Were you trying to trick me? For shame! [Mutters to himself] I was told never to trust the weedy ones... [To Monty] Dominique is doomed for eternity! [Whispers] She was a very naughty girl. [Scowls at Monty's 'amateur' comment] How rude! I have no choice now but to put your soon lifeless body in the most dreaded section of the Gallery... [Dramatically] With the mimes!

Austin : [To the party] 'She who will not be named', could be Trindle, in disguise?

Monty : [Nonplussed again.] Mimes who are dead, stuffed, and mounted, and who therefore won't be doing any miming to speak of? How quaint. [Pauses.] I thought you said that victims here had their souls torn out first? You mean to tell me that you willingly work for someone who associates so deeply with mimes as to covet their souls? [Frowns thoughtfully.] I'm not sure whether that makes you or the one you work for the more depraved.

Jose : He does not covet their souls. He needs to eat them. As you will be eaten.

Enrique : Unless you tell us which of you is Adam. And it is us are the more depraved. Yes, we are even more depraved than the master himself! [Grabs Jose, and licks his eyeball, with a loud slurping sound]

Alice : Ew! I think I'm gonna be sick!

Enrique : See?

Monty : Well, considering the phrase, "you are what you eat," and what his mime-consumption makes him, you really ought to reconsider your employment. However, unless it happens to be Seth himself - whose personal acquaintance we've made some time in the past... well, we're rather unlikely to be impressed. Ahem. Although if it's Dr. Jerome Trindle, insert miscellaneous titles here, then we do have a bone to pick with him on other matters.

Clint: [To Jose] Huh. If that's gonna hurt, could you at least pass us some booze to ease the pain?

Enrique : That is precisely what we are doing. And you, my lucky and soon to be enebriated friends will help us. Jose, fetch some alcohol.

Clint: [Gives Enrique a thumbs up] Enrique, you're all right! Got any grub, while you're at it? You don't want us to be all bony and pointy and hard to chew, right?

Jose : [Blinks and smiles at Enrique] I can see so much better now! [Lopes off to find some alcohol]

Enrique : You fool! I have no wish to eat you! And if I did, everyone knows, the bony bits are the nicest part.

Monty : [Distractedly.] The chewy marrow inside the hard calcified shell, I suppose?

Enrique : [Nods approvingly, but stops] Jose! [Grabs a fistful of sandwiches, mashing them up as he does] Damn you, Jose! I said crotchets! Crotchets!

Jose : [Returning with a small wooden crate.] Here you are. [Pulls out a large jar filled with amber liquid and passes it to Clint. Notably, it has an eyeball suspended inside. To Clint, encouragingly] I believe that is a fine vintage. [Hands over a plate of assorted sandwiches cut in the shape of semi-quavers.] And these are most delicious!

Clint: [Takes the jar from Jose and sniffs it suspiciously] Oh, wait! Where are my manners? Ladies first! [hands the jar to Alice]

Clint: [Looks into the floating eye for a moment, shrugs, and then takes a swig]

Alice : [Holds a hand up] No thanks, Stinky. I don't drink anything that's looking at me.

Enrique : We don't have the time, Jose. Just straighten them out.

Jose : [Looks devastated. To Enrique, apologetically] Ilo siento, Enrique! [Collects the remains of the sandwiches from the floor] I must have got distracted. Shall I make them anew?

Clint: [Chokes a little and rasps] Great hooch. [Takes another swig. To Jose] Fried rat or baked?

Jose : Si, of course. [Makes a valiant attempt at fixing up the crushed sandwiches and hands the pathetic looking final product to the party] I hope you like rat. fluid

Jose : [To Clint] Grilled. Well, maybe a little over-done. Burnt, in fact. [Pauses] Charcoal, you could say.

Enrique : This is wasting time! Which of you is Adam?

Clint: [Hurls the eyeball hooch at Enrique] None of us, freak!

Jose : There will be all the carrots and teapots you could ever want!

Enrique : [Deftly dodging the jar, which smashes behind him] In that case, which of you wishes to help us trying to take over the world?

Enrique : Quiet Jose! This is a time for delicate negotiation.

Clint: [To Enrique] All right, what's in it for us?

Enrique : Freedom, my pungent and aggressive friend, freedom! And all the the Ricky and Jose records you can eat.

Austin : [Straightening a cuff] I take it that you have an album ready to take over the world with, perhaps if we could hear some of the track we would be motivated to help you in your quest to take over the world!

Enrique : Oh no, my well dressed friend, for I will not have you stealing our soulful country ballads, and pre-empting my plan to take over the world. The choice is simple, either you remained incarcerated within the bowels of this warren like, most heinous, brutal and terrible cornucopia of suffering and anguish, or you will be adroit and understanding, and display a keenness to facilitate the quest to flood the earth with rhythmic and euphonious creations. Now, what do you say?

Alice : That depends.

Enrique : On what?

Alice : On what the hell all that means!

Jose : It means... Um. [Looks to Enrique] What does it mean?

Enrique : [Sigh!] If they don't help us, they'll die.

Monty : [To Alice and Jose.] Ahem. He is verbosely saying that either we can help him play a catchy tune or we can rot here in this cell. [More to Alice.] Your prior experience may prove useful here. That rendition of "Do the Crucifiction" was quite good.

Clint: What do we have to do, exactly?

Jose : You must worship a giant frog as your pagan god! Oh, wait. That was last week.

Enrique : You need to kill the demon. Don't worry, my friends, it won't be difficult. When he's in his natural dimension, you can simply creep up and kill him, for he will not be able to see you.

Enrique : Quiet, Jose! Or you'll inadvertantly let them know of our plan to pose as Heather Froglear on our quest to take over the world. [To the party] She's really rather lovely, you know, and wears such delightful dresses. [Shakes his head sadly] The young ladies of today are cheated, yes, cheated by society's abandonment of petticoats.

Harvey : By the saints, sir, I couldn't agree more with you! Why, there was nothing on earth as arousing as a flash of ankle poking from beneath a dirth of voluminous skirts! Oh how I wish for a return of those days! [To Enrique] Who is this demon you want us to kill, and where can it be found?

Enrique : The demon is [drum roll of anticipation] Balkline Groot. ### The party have encountered Balkline a few times, including in the very ### distant past. Each time he inflicted severe damage to the party, ### including almost killing Aphi. ### He was last seen in the interior, where he was trapped.

Harvey : [Groans] Not Balkline! He's practically invincible, what! What did you mean when you said there was a place where he was at his weakest?

Jose : Shh! You must not name him, or he will hear us! [Looks around as if expecting someone to be listening in]

Harvey : [Looks around quickly] By the saints, just how close is he, eh?

Monty : [To Harvey.] They may be referring to one of those common demonic gimmicks that allows the thing to hear its name when spoken. Of course, in this one's case, it wouldn't surprise me if it merely had a peep-hole secreted somewhere in the walls of this chamber.

Jose : You will all help us then? [Peers intently at Monty] Si?

Monty : I believe that we are willing to accomodate the notion. This group has done stranger things before. And sometimes survived. Ahem. However, the absence of one of our members, Smock, may pose a complication. Perhaps she has merely yet to arrive? She may still be due for one last go-around in that time-cycle.

Austin : [To Jose] Of course we will help you, any enemy of the big B.G. is a friend of ours. [Pauses] Providing of course that we can go free after the, er, attempt to kill BG.

Jose : Who is this Smock? [To Enrique] Do we know a Smock? [To Monty] Aren't you already fully dressed? [To Austin] When we are masters of the world we will grant you your freedom! And you will have a large bowl of spaghetti with chocolate sauce in payment for your service.

Monty : No, sir. Not smock as in a garment. It was the name that she was going by. Though granted, it might have been a pseudonym. A human girl, about yea high. [Indicates Smock's approximate height.] Possessed of minor magical abilities. She was in the last cycle of the town along with me. I'm here now, but she may still be going through one more turn of it. Do you have any means by which to observe that locale and its repetitions?

Clint: [Crossing his arms defiantly] We aren't doing squat for you if you can't scare up the kid. For all we know, you've turned her into your slave or something!

Jose : Ooh! [Stands up a little straighter.] Señor. Did you hear that, Enrique? [Puffs out his chest.] That one called me 'sir'.

Enrique : Careful, Jose, that sort of blatant flattery is almost invariably followed by a request for favour. We do have a means of observing the town, a cunningly disguised peep hole, that lets us see all that is of interest in Metaplasia.

Alice : Really? Where is it?

Enrique : Ladies restroom. [To Clint] I believe the one you are so concerned with is now known as Q, a rascally upstart with an irritating tendency to kick people in the shin.

Austin : [To the Party, with an air of knowing smugness] So what was my alternative persona like? [Immediatley puts his hand up] No don't tell me, dashing, charming, life and soul of the village! I knew it! [Looks ever so pleased with himself]

Monty : As I thought. And have you any idea when the adventurer formerly known as Smock might find her way here? Are there any suitable replacements handy in the vicinity?

Alice : [Completely unconvincing] Yes, Austin. That's exactly right.

Enrique : There are no replacements available, but the Master believes that you will provide sustenance for him for many months. The child is in no immediate danger.

Jose : [Fumbling his keys in excitement] Hurry, hurry! Wasting time damages eternity! [Puts the key in the lock of the cell, but looks to Enrique before letting the party out]

Harvey : Yes indeed, that's the way, just pop the lock and let us out!

Austin : [To Harvey] One moment Colonel, our comrades to be have not yet told us what BG's natural environment is. If it's in a lava pit or some thing then the likeyhood of us being able to get close enough to him to strike him whilst vunerable is slim, to say the least.

Harvey : [Quietly to Austin] At least we'll get out of this cell, private.

Enrique : Not so fast, Jose. We need to establish some ground rules first. [Pause] And besides, that's not a key, but a small fish. The Master's natural resting environment is none other than this. [Holds up a beautiful looking leather book, with intricate gold lettering that reads "The Big Book of Knowledge"] You may have seen a replica in Metaplasia. It was cunningly forged by Jose, and slipped in at the start of one of the loops using timing that was accurate to the fifteenth decimal place. Now, please agree to not attack us. I find physical violence most tiresome.

Harvey : [Nods] Very well then, I agree that we will not attack you. And yes, we did come across that book in Metaplasia, except it was called The Big Bok Of Knowledge. [Scratches at a sideburn] But what do you mean that a book is his natural resting place?

Austin : [To Harvey] I think he means that BG lives in the book.

Enrique : The Book of Knowledge is a very special magic item, for it is actually another dimension, where every piece of information ever recorded comes to life. [Dramatically] Balkline himself spontaneously emerged from a number of carelessly placed chapters, [with a flourish] who's cumulative evil spat him out from the very depths of hell. [Calmly] There are also a number of very informative articles in there about knitting.

Harvey : Hmmm, so what happens if you snip out the chapters containing the creature and destroy them?

Enrique : Not quite, my well tanned friend. He doesn't live there, rather he returns there for periods of rest.

Enrique : Then a cataclysmic earthquake will rip through the fabric of our world, possibly rending the entire planet in two.

[Time passes.]

Alice : Into what?

Enrique : Into two. Last from colin - 03.09.094

Chastity : But don't all the pages appear blank?

Enrique : Not in the real book, they don't.

Harvey : Hang on troop, I think I see where this is heading! [To Enrique] You want us to somehow step inside that book, don't you!

Enrique : Indeed, my well fed friend. That will facilitate the destruction the master, and with it one of the greatest obstacles that stops us from trying to take over the world.

Clint: [Looks at the book dubiously] How the hell are we supposed to get in there?!

Enrique : [Holds up some crayons] With the aid of some poorly drawn cartoon characters, of course.

Harvey : Hmm, now that I think about it, I can see one drawback in your plan from where we're standing. And that drawback is the whole taking over the world thing, what! Why should we pave the way for you to dominate everyone and everything? Why, you may be no better than many other bad eggs we've come across in the past.

Jose : [Chewing on the small fish] Oh no, we most certainly are the good eggs. Rich in protein, B vitamins and iron.

Enrique : Because, my short sighted friend, of the very fact that you have dealt with [finger quotes] bad eggs such as us. We are evil megalomaniacs in the old traditions, and can be trusted to uphold those traditions. Not for us the quick jab of the sword, oh no, when we try to kill you, and, mark my words, we certainly will, just not now, we will ensnare you in a killing machine of such fiendishly incomprehensible complexity that it will certainly fail, thus granting you the opportunity to escape, and foil our plans using the very information that we will have related to you in an unguarded moment of triumphalism. Also, if you don't help us, we will feed your souls to the Master.

Enrique : Quiet Jose! We are in delicate negotiations here, and I'm sure that our newfound friends realise that the goodness or otherwise of our eggness is immaterial.

Harvey : By the saints, well, I'm certainly convinced! We will help! Now, who is the best artist to capture our likenesses on the page? Why, dear niece, I do believe that you are the one with the talent.

Enrique : Quite so, Colonel. I am aware of her prodigious talent - however, despite how intriguing it is, we need some to construct some poorly drawn cartoon characters.

Alice : [Stepping forward, all smiles at Harvey's remark, suddenly looking dismayed] Hey!

Enrique : Hey, indeed, my supple friend. However, I have already taken the liberty of producing the very thing we need. [Produces a sheet of paper with a flourish and shows it to the party. It is, as described, a set of poorly drawn cartoon figures]

The party as poor drawn cartoon figures

Jose : I think they're beautiful, Enrique. [To party] His talents are endless.

Austin : [Looking at the drawings] Which one is supposed to be me? [Points at the guy in the white suit and the guy in the gray suit] That one or that one?

Enrique : Thank you, Jose, but I couldn't have completed it without your crayon sharpening skills - and I'm pleased that your finger grew back so quickly, even if it does make it more difficult to scratch those awkward to reach places.

Enrique : What? How dare you sir? I should say the likeness is quite astonishing, but that aside, there are several visual clues. First, when did you ever wear such a cheap looking grey suit? Second, notice the arrogant pose of the white suited character - clearly an Austin pose if ever there was one. Third, consider the large jowels of the grey suited man! [Holds the picture up close to Harvey's face] And fourth, see the dead look in the grey suited man's eyes - the kind of spirit crushing that can only be the result of years of witnessing his favourite niece indulge in all sorts of outrageous and often illegal behaviour.

Alice : Hey!

Enrique : I have the Book of Knowledge - I know where all the bodies are buried.

Austin : [To Enrique] Well, quite, I have never worn a grey suit in my live, but the character in the grey suit looks much too young and slim to be a depiction of the Colonel. As you said, years of spirit crushing. [Pauses] Okay, so where is the book of knowledge?

Alice : I know! Let's consult the Book of Knowledge to see where it is!

Enrique : That will not be necessary. [Holds up the book once more] Here is the book. It will take a piece ingenuity from me, and then you will be written into it, virtually invincible. Myself and Jose will meet you inside - but be careful, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, and I urge particular caution around the furniture section. Sure, those little tables and chairs look cute, but they're vicious.

Jose : And don't trust the midgets. [Shudders]

Austin : [Still pondering his likness] I think you've drawn my feet too big.

Enrique : Forgive me for not quite capturing your girlishly small ankles.

Clint: [Frowning at his likeness] Mine's too fruity-looking. [To Enrique, disgusted] Are you blind?!

Austin : [To Enrique] Well, quite, I have never worn a grey suit in my live, but the character in the grey suit looks much too young and slim to be a depiction of the Colonel. As you said, years of spirit crushing. [Pauses] Okay, so where is the book of knowledge?

Alice : I know! Let's consult the Book of Knowledge to see where it is!

Enrique : That will not be necessary. [Holds up the book once more] Here is the book. It will take a piece ingenuity from me, and then you will be written into it, virtually invincible. Myself and Jose will meet you inside - but be careful, a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing, and I urge particular caution around the furniture section. Sure, those little tables and chairs look cute, but they're vicious.

Jose : And don't trust the midgets. [Shudders]

Austin : [Still pondering his likness] I think you've drawn my feet too big.

Enrique : Forgive me for not quite capturing your girlishly small ankles.

Clint: [Frowning at his likeness] Mine's too fruity-looking. [To Enrique, disgusted] Are you blind?!

Enrique : [Getting a bit miffed] Having borne witness to your embarassing display with Dominique, I wish I was. However, given your behaviour with her, I fear I may not have made your one fruity enough! [To Alice] And what's wrong with yours? Skirt too high, I suppose?

Alice : Uh, actually, I was going to say that it wasn't high enough!

Clint: [To Enrique, outraged] What the hell are you talking about?! That broad was all over me! I woulda nailed her if we ever had one damn minute to ourselves!

Austin : [To Enrique] You have done a rather good job of Chastity's blue rinse.

Enrique : [Gives a brief nod to Austin] Thank you, although it his her shiny red shoes that I'm particularly proud of. [Smiles at Clint] Good. Now take that anger and use it to kill her ex-boyfriend.

Alice : I thought we were going to kill Balkline?

Enrique : That's correct, my bleached friend.

Clint: [Disgusted] THAT freak is her ex?!

Austin : [Chuckling to himself. To Clint] There's hope for you yet Mr Scar.

Enrique : Apparently she was able to calm the beast within.

Austin : [Casually] And do you know how she managed to do that?

Enrique : Apparently it was her calm demeanour.

Austin : Hmm, well she'd need more that a calm demeanour to clam Mr Scar's 'beast without'. A kilo of carbolic, a scrubbing brush and large lake might do it. [To Enrique] Well then, everything seems to be in order, so lets go for it.

Harvey : [Still looking at the drawing] I say, you couldn't perhaps muscle us all up and give us various fiendish devices and awesome weaponry to take on this demon, could you? And while we're about it, [glowers at Enrique] perhaps a much longer dress for my niece, eh!

Enrique : [Gives a brief nod to Austin] Thank you, although it his her shiny red shoes that I'm particularly proud of. [Smiles at Clint] Good. Now take that anger and use it to kill her ex-boyfriend.

Alice : I thought we were going to kill Balkline?

Enrique : That's correct, my bleached friend.

Clint: [Disgusted] THAT freak is her ex?!

Austin : [Chuckling to himself. To Clint] There's hope for you yet Mr Scar.

Enrique : Apparently she was able to calm the beast within.

Austin : [Casually] And do you know how she managed to do that?

Enrique : Apparently it was her calm demeanour.

Austin : Hmm, well she'd need more that a calm demeanour to clam Mr Scar's 'beast without'. A kilo of carbolic, a scrubbing brush and large lake might do it. [To Enrique] Well then, everything seems to be in order, so lets go for it.

Harvey : [Still looking at the drawing] I say, you couldn't perhaps muscle us all up and give us various fiendish devices and awesome weaponry to take on this demon, could you? And while we're about it, [glowers at Enrique] perhaps a much longer dress for my niece, eh!

Jose : [Folding some paper] No worry, señor. I have it under control. [Finishes his origami creation with a flourish, and hands Harvey a palm-sized, surprisingly accurate-looking, paper cross bow. Sets a matchstick on top as the ammunition.] There!

Enrique : Excellent, Jose. Now all we need to do is find some paper men to kill. [Unlocks the cell, and takes out a small blue orb] And now, my friends, we take a crucial step to fulfilling my destiny of taking over the world! [Dramatically throws the orb on the ground, and the whole room is enveloped in blue light] [Book V, Act III, Scene X. The Book of Knowledge. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, CLINT, HARVEY, MONTY, ENRIQUE and JOSE are here, in the form of drawings. Everyone appears to be in a huge white room, completely devoid of furniture, windows and doors.]

Enrique : And now, my badly drawn friends, you must pay close attention. The physics here are somewhat different from what you might expect.

Alice : How?

Enrique : Observe. [Reaches into his inside pocket and, incredibly, whips out a huge grand piano, which he smashes over Alice's head]

Alice : Ow!

Enrique : You'll be fine. [To the party] In this dimension, you can produce any object at will, manipulate scenary and even fall from great heights. However, these objects cannot hurt each other. Try not to get carried away.

Alice : [Looking surprisingly healthy except for a big lump sticking out of her head] That did so hurt!

Enrique : [Pushes the lump back in] You'll be fine.

Jose : [Pulls a tiny suitcase out of his pocket, labled 'ACNE'. Sets it on the ground and springs the latch, jumping out of the way. Seemingly impossibly, the case repetitively unfolds, over and over, until finally producing an array of shelves full of weaponry. There are the regular kinds along with the quirky and imaginative.] See señor! [Beams at Harvey] Here are your weapons.

Enrique : You may take a few moments to familiarise yourself with this new environment.

Alice : This is going to be great! [Takes out a crayon and draws what appears to be a large square of wood, which she pushes at] Hey! How come this door won't open?

Enrique : Because it doesn't even look like a door.

Chastity : This will take a bit of getting used to. [Pulls out a crayon a draws a stool, which she sits down on] It's not right that we can do [emphasis] anything.

Monty : [To Alice.] Perhaps you might experiment with applying makeup to yourself. Exaggerate a few things here and there to bolster your cartoonish qualities, so to speak. If it succeeds, then Mr. Sleaze might also benefit.

Harvey : [Thinks hard before opening his coat and pulling out a huge barbeque and bashes himself over the head with it. Suddenly loads of fried chickens begin circling around his head] Ah, wonderful troop! [He grabs a few and begins munching happily] On 13/09/05, Pates@mri.sari.ac.uk wrote:

Alice : [Gives Monty a curious look] What cartoonish qualities? Maybe I might experiment with applying make up to you, to emphasis [huge emphasis] your cartoonish qualities!

Monty : You know, the sort of thing they do in those cartoons. Enlarge the eyes to see better, and so forth. As for myself, I think that I would prefer to avail myself of alternate means. [Heads over to the rack of armaments.] [Brightly.] Now, let's see what we have in here... [Begins looking them all over.]

Harvey : [Still munching] Any more jibes at my dear niece, private Giles, and you'll find out that a pencil has both lead and more importantly, an eraser! [While he's speaking he sneaks up behind Alice and quickly attempts to draw a large dress around her legs]

Alice : Aw! Thanks Uncle Harvey! [Steps forward to Monty] I'm sick of you behaving like I'm some kind of idi - [falls over her new long skirt] Hey!

Clint : [Reaches into inside pocket and fishes out a huge cigar] You lot have the wrong idea. Let's make the most of this place! [Lights the cigar]

Monty : [Sparing Alice only a momentary glance, pulls a strange device covered with antennae and wires from the shelves and reads the label.] Achy Breaky Heart Inducer. Point at victim and press trigger. Victim will experience the strains of that fiendish song replaying indefinitely within their mind. [Frowns and hastily puts it down.] Ahem. Even a demon doesn't deserve that.

Harvey : [Takes out a trumpet and plays that Wah wah waaah sound as Alice lands on the ground, before quickly putting it away] Oh by the saints, dear niece, are you alright? [Gives Alice a hand up]

Jose : [Pulls a portable bar out of his pocket, complete with top shelf spirits and four barstools. Standing behind the bar in a vest, polishing a glass. To party] The odorous one is right. Think bigger, amigos! [Points out an offensively bright water-pistol-like weapon to Monty] That one, senor, is fun. [Tag reads: Anti-gravity gun]

Alice : [Allows herself to be pulled up] I'm fine. [Quickly slips out of the big dress]

Enrique : Enough of this barely comical japery. We have a demon to slay. Choose your weapons.

Alice : Why don't we just drop an anvil on his head? That's what that guy always did on Road Ruiner - you know, the one where the giant speeding chicken would knock people down and kill them? Pecking their eyes out and leaving tiny webbed foot prints all over them? [Thinks] Man, that was a really inappropriate cartoon wasn't it? You know what, I don't think Road Ruiner was even wearing any clothes! What was that all about? ### People can select anything (cartoonishly) reasonable from ### Jose's case.

Harvey : [To Monty] By the saints, lad, you're quite correct! [Shudders even at the thought of it] Now then...[walks over to the case and looks in, picking up a mallet with a red button on it.] I say, I wonder what this does? [Presses the red button and a huge boxing glove on a crank arm flies out of the mallet, striking the wall before returning into the mallet] I say, found my weapon anyway!

Monty : [Still absorbed in examining the wares.] Duct tape? Now that could certainly come in useful in a scenario such as this! [Selects it.] [To Enrique.] Since we can, as it were, produce objects at will, perhaps it would be best to improvise anything further that I might require?

Monty : [With duct tape in hand.] Indeed? Perhaps I'll try it, then. [Takes up the water pistol in his other hand.] Right then! Let's rumble. Ahem.

Austin : [Gets a pallet, easle and a fine set of oils from his pocket and starts painting] Hmmm, ahh, mmmm [Once finished the painting appears to be of Lucy, and Austin stands back to adminre his handy work]

Alice : [Looks from Harvey to Jose] Right! [Searches in the big box of weapons, before coming out with an Acne Rocket] We could strap this to Clint's back and shoot him at Balkline. What do you say, Stinky? What do you think of the rocket?

Clint : Click-click! It's okay, Bimbo, I've already got a pocket rocket. [Takes out a tiny hand gun and fires it, shooting a small rocket out that zooms around madly, causing everyone to duck for cover]

Enrique : [To Monty] No, my low coughing friend, you cannot always count on being able to produce something - it is best that you have your desired weapons now. [Suddenly spots Austin, and rushes over and breaks the picture, in a surprisingly fast and violent way, before turning to Austin] My apologies, my friend, for I know the burden you carry, which must eat at your soul as surely does the desire for world domination at mine, however, remember, pictures can come alive here, but not always how you expect.

Austin : [To Enrique] Please explain what the problem is whilst I draw a weapon of my choice [Austin starts painting his skeletal finger more accuratley. Then paints a very sharp looking dagger with a glint and sparkle on the point to show how fiendishly sharp it is]

Harvey : [Hefts his mallet] Right then troop, lets...wait a moment! [Turns to Enrique] If we can draw things to use out of thin air, then surely the demon can do likewise? How can he be weaker here if he can make anything appear?

Monty : The subject lunging out of the frame and eating you in one gulp, that sort of thing? I seem to recall that being a popular gimmick, especially during gloomier times of the year. We'd best be careful if we find ourselves in an art gallery.

Enrique : That is precisely it - and yes, it is quite possible that he will retreat to the rogues gallery. He is weaker here because he can be harmed, as can you, of course.

Monty : Perhaps you'd best enlighten us as to what strategic locales we're likely to encounter, and what precautions need be taken in each case. Much preferable to trying to find out once we're already dealing with such.

Enrique : There are an endless number of locales - it depends on where Balkline is.

Chastity : This will take a bit of getting used to. [Pulls out a crayon a draws a stool, which she sits down on] It's not right that we can do [emphasis] anything.

Monty : [To Alice.] Perhaps you might experiment with applying makeup to yourself. Exaggerate a few things here and there to bolster your cartoonish qualities, so to speak. If it succeeds, then Mr. Sleaze might also benefit.

Harvey : [Thinks hard before opening his coat and pulling out a huge barbeque and bashes himself over the head with it. Suddenly loads of fried chickens begin circling around his head] Ah, wonderful troop! [He grabs a few and begins munching happily] On 13/09/05, Pates@mri.sari.ac.uk wrote:

Alice : [Gives Monty a curious look] What cartoonish qualities? Maybe I might experiment with applying make up to you, to emphasis [huge emphasis] your cartoonish qualities!

Monty : You know, the sort of thing they do in those cartoons. Enlarge the eyes to see better, and so forth. As for myself, I think that I would prefer to avail myself of alternate means. [Heads over to the rack of armaments.] [Brightly.] Now, let's see what we have in here... [Begins looking them all over.]

Harvey : [Still munching] Any more jibes at my dear niece, private Giles, and you'll find out that a pencil has both lead and more importantly, an eraser! [While he's speaking he sneaks up behind Alice and quickly attempts to draw a large dress around her legs]

Alice : Aw! Thanks Uncle Harvey! [Steps forward to Monty] I'm sick of you behaving like I'm some kind of idi - [falls over her new long skirt] Hey!

Clint : [Reaches into inside pocket and fishes out a huge cigar] You lot have the wrong idea. Let's make the most of this place! [Lights the cigar]

Monty : [Sparing Alice only a momentary glance, pulls a strange device covered with antennae and wires from the shelves and reads the label.] Achy Breaky Heart Inducer. Point at victim and press trigger. Victim will experience the strains of that fiendish song replaying indefinitely within their mind. [Frowns and hastily puts it down.] Ahem. Even a demon doesn't deserve that.

Harvey : [Takes out a trumpet and plays that Wah wah waaah sound as Alice lands on the ground, before quickly putting it away] Oh by the saints, dear niece, are you alright? [Gives Alice a hand up]

Jose : [Pulls a portable bar out of his pocket, complete with top shelf spirits and four barstools. Standing behind the bar in a vest, polishing a glass. To party] The odorous one is right. Think bigger, amigos! [Points out an offensively bright water-pistol-like weapon to Monty] That one, senor, is fun. [Tag reads: Anti-gravity gun]

Alice : [Allows herself to be pulled up] I'm fine. [Quickly slips out of the big dress]

Enrique : Enough of this barely comical japery. We have a demon to slay. Choose your weapons.

Alice : Why don't we just drop an anvil on his head? That's what that guy always did on Road Ruiner - you know, the one where the giant speeding chicken would knock people down and kill them? Pecking their eyes out and leaving tiny webbed foot prints all over them? [Thinks] Man, that was a really inappropriate cartoon wasn't it? You know what, I don't think Road Ruiner was even wearing any clothes! What was that all about? ### People can select anything (cartoonishly) reasonable from ### Jose's case.

Harvey : [To Monty] By the saints, lad, you're quite correct! [Shudders even at the thought of it] Now then...[walks over to the case and looks in, picking up a mallet with a red button on it.] I say, I wonder what this does? [Presses the red button and a huge boxing glove on a crank arm flies out of the mallet, striking the wall before returning into the mallet] I say, found my weapon anyway!

Monty : [Still absorbed in examining the wares.] Duct tape? Now that could certainly come in useful in a scenario such as this! [Selects it.] [To Enrique.] Since we can, as it were, produce objects at will, perhaps it would be best to improvise anything further that I might require?

Monty : [With duct tape in hand.] Indeed? Perhaps I'll try it, then. [Takes up the water pistol in his other hand.] Right then! Let's rumble. Ahem.

Austin : [Gets a pallet, easle and a fine set of oils from his pocket and starts painting] Hmmm, ahh, mmmm [Once finished the painting appears to be of Lucy, and Austin stands back to adminre his handy work]

Alice : [Looks from Harvey to Jose] Right! [Searches in the big box of weapons, before coming out with an Acne Rocket] We could strap this to Clint's back and shoot him at Balkline. What do you say, Stinky? What do you think of the rocket?

Clint : Click-click! It's okay, Bimbo, I've already got a pocket rocket. [Takes out a tiny hand gun and fires it, shooting a small rocket out that zooms around madly, causing everyone to duck for cover]

Enrique : [To Monty] No, my low coughing friend, you cannot always count on being able to produce something - it is best that you have your desired weapons now. [Suddenly spots Austin, and rushes over and breaks the picture, in a surprisingly fast and violent way, before turning to Austin] My apologies, my friend, for I know the burden you carry, which must eat at your soul as surely does the desire for world domination at mine, however, remember, pictures can come alive here, but not always how you expect.

Austin : [To Enrique] Please explain what the problem is whilst I draw a weapon of my choice [Austin starts painting his skeletal finger more accuratley. Then paints a very sharp looking dagger with a glint and sparkle on the point to show how fiendishly sharp it is]

Harvey : [Hefts his mallet] Right then troop, lets...wait a moment! [Turns to Enrique] If we can draw things to use out of thin air, then surely the demon can do likewise? How can he be weaker here if he can make anything appear?

Monty : The subject lunging out of the frame and eating you in one gulp, that sort of thing? I seem to recall that being a popular gimmick, especially during gloomier times of the year. We'd best be careful if we find ourselves in an art gallery.

Enrique : That is precisely it - and yes, it is quite possible that he will retreat to the rogues gallery. He is weaker here because he can be harmed, as can you, of course.

Monty : Perhaps you'd best enlighten us as to what strategic locales we're likely to encounter, and what precautions need be taken in each case. Much preferable to trying to find out once we're already dealing with such.

Enrique : There are an endless number of locales - it depends on where Balkline is.

Monty : Which ones does he particularly favor, though?

Jose : [To Monty] He is a lover of variety. All you need is the sharpness of the water and the flexibility of the balloon. [Hands a fresh box of crayons to everyone.] You are charged with a wondrous mission. [Is overcome by a moment of pride and sadness. Wipes away a tear.] May your socks always be dry!

Enrique : Jose is confusingly vague, but he is correct. I believe that Balkline is currently relaxing in the furniture section.

Austin : [To Enrique] As sharp as water, you mean an icicle! [Starts drawing a Balkline sized mobile super-acme-insifreezer] How about that.

Jose : [To Austin, delighted] Oh! You understand me perfecto, señor! [Takes Austin's hand in his own] You have earned my greatest respect. Oh, except for Enrique of course.

Monty : I think that we might want to look into something with which to demolish furniture, Mr. Sleaze. Although apparently we won't be able to muster any such thing, if previous statements are accurate. Unfortunately, the furniture in question will no doubt be animated to attack us during the confrontation.

Enrique : Indeed, the chairs are most vicious - although not nearly as harmful as the futons.

Austin : [Considers the acme-freeze-o-matic] A little bulky methinks [Gets out a really big mallet and bashes the huge freezeomatic until it is a nice hand sized gun, then draws a water melon and tries to freeze it with his new freeze ray]

[The melon freezes instantly.]

Alice : Yay! There's no way fire can defeat ice! [Thinks for a moment] Or is there?

Austin : Let's see if it smashes to smithereens! [Hits the Melon with his hammer]

[The melon duly smashes to pieces, showering everyone in razor sharp pieces.]

Alice : Ow! Hey! Be careful! One nearly went in my eye!

Clint : [Chewing on something] Mm, melony! [Takes out an Acne Pocket Power Hose from the case, before turning dramatically to the party, cigar chomped in his teeth] Let's extinguish him!

Monty : [Pulls an umbrella from his jacket pocket and wields it so as to shield himself from any spray.] I don't think that will be necessary, Mr. Scar. However, that device may be a useful backup against any firey inferno that we face.

Alice : Don't be silly, Monts, that's for washing Clint with.

[CLINT gives ALICE a quick dowsing with the hose.]

Clint : [With a big smile] Oops.

Enrique : Indeed, my alert friend. Oops. Now, before we enter battle, remember, you can be harmed by Balkline, even killed. And yes, I'm aware that you were hitherto invulnerable.

[The melon freezes instantly.]

Alice : Yay! There's no way fire can defeat ice! [Thinks for a moment] Or is there?

Austin : Let's see if it smashes to smithereens! [Hits the Melon with his hammer]

[The melon duly smashes to pieces, showering everyone in razor sharp pieces.]

Alice : Ow! Hey! Be careful! One nearly went in my eye!

Clint : [Chewing on something] Mm, melony! [Takes out an Acne Pocket Power Hose from the case, before turning dramatically to the party, cigar chomped in his teeth] Let's extinguish him!

Monty : [Pulls an umbrella from his jacket pocket and wields it so as to shield himself from any spray.] I don't think that will be necessary, Mr. Scar. However, that device may be a useful backup against any firey inferno that we face.

Alice : Don't be silly, Monts, that's for washing Clint with.

[CLINT gives ALICE a quick dowsing with the hose.]

Clint : [With a big smile] Oops.

Enrique : Indeed, my alert friend. Oops. Now, before we enter battle, remember, you can be harmed by Balkline, even killed. And yes, I'm aware that you were hitherto invulnerable.

Austin : [Draws the ultimate weapon - the eraser (Rubber for us Eurotypes)! And slips it into his pocket] I'll save that for later, just incase.

Alice : Great idea Aus!

[The rubber falls through a newly introduced hole in AUSTIN's jacket.]

Harvey : I wonder what type of furniture old BK can use though? I'm guessing it would have to be fairly fire resistant, eh troop!

Austin : [Watching his rubber hit the floor] Oh poosticks! I didn't think of that. [Ponders the problem. Sighs] Oh well, perhaps we can quick draw them in the battle if it gets really nasty. Or how about this [Draws an acne-ultra-auto--liquid-paper-correction-fluid-bazooka (AUALPCFB for short), draws a target and picks the bazooka up and shoots the target]

Clint: [Eyes light up as he draws a bottle of Louis XIV brandy. To Chastity, defensively] Uh, for courage!

Enrique : Indeed, my soon to be intoxicated friend, for courage will be needed, however, be careful, for this is indeed a gravely serious situation. [Reaches into his pocket and takes out what appears to be a door, but which is strangely twisted, which he points out dramatically] Now, let us step through the funny door.

Monty : To the furniture showroom, or is there another destination en route?

Enrique : Indeed, my inquisitive friend, to the furniture showroom.

Alice : What kind of furniture is it?

Enrique : Most of it is tolerable, but some of the leather armchairs are downright arrogant.

[Everyone heads through the funny door, which leads into what looks like a huge warehouse, which is full of (real looking) furniture. There is no obvious sign of BALKLINE, but there is the sound of someone weeping quietly off to one side.]

Alice : [Whispers] Is that Balkline?

Enrique : Of course it's not Balkline, he is more into burning and shouting. Honestly, you're as bad as Jose! What are you thinking?

[A number of small clouds appear beside ALICE, each further away from her than the last, leading to what appears to be a thought bubble. Inside is what looks like a cat dressed like a barrister (lawyer with wig and gown) and wearing glasses, he is addressing a courtroom full of humans, although the prisoner on trial appears to be a chicken.]

Alice : [Gives a wail of dismay, before swatting away the thought bubble, which disappears like smoke] Hey!

Monty : And all of it potentially dangerous. Understood. Right, let's be off! [Leads the way.]

Harvey : [Looks astonished for a moment before turning to the others] Well troop, let's find out where this weeping is coming from, eh!

Harvey : Is...is...is that chesto'drawers crying? [Gingerly touches it]

Alice : [Glares at the others] What? It's my idea for a hit cartoon - Tickles McKittyfluff, Animal Lawyer by day, super hero by night.

[The party cautious approach the area where the sound of the crying in coming from. It appears to be coming from a chest of drawers, CHESTER CHESTERFIELD. CHESTER looks very real, but is moving in a very fluid and natural way, for example, each drawer looks like a frowny face, while each handle is a tear filled eye.]

Chester

Harvey : [Takes his hand away quickly] There, there, fellow! I'm sure we can draw you a little companion, what! Perhaps a bureau, or a cupboard, a sideboard or even one of those little executive toys with the balls that bang together forever! That'd be company for you, wouldn't it?

Chester : Sniff! I'm so lonely!

[CHESTER feels like he's made of wood, and makes a strange sort of purring noise as HARVEY touches him.]

Chester : Yes! I'd love some company. I just want to have friends.

Chester : You pervert!

[CLINT's woman mercifully doesn't come alive.]

Alice : Come on! He just wants to be friends. What's your name, little guy? [Bends down to him]

[Smack. ALICE gets hit in the face by a drawer.]

Chester : Yahey! I'm Chester Chesterfield, and you've just been Chesterfied!

Alice : [Bleeding from the cheek] Ow! That really hurt! ### Lose 6hp Alice

Harvey : [Looks at Clints drawing] Dear God, sir, you're mind is a cesspit beyond imagining!

Jose : [To Chester] What about all this other furniture? Are they not company enough? [Looks about] That desk looks quite attractive. [Smiles coyly at a sleek black desk]

Harvey : It most certainly did not, private Scar! Your demented scribblings wouldn't turn on even that strange artist Dalvador Sali! [To Chester] What is the meaning of hurting my niece like that, you...you...desk! It's no wonder you're lonely, what!

Alice : Hey! I'm not healing - what's going on here?

Salem le Fort

Chester : You wouldn't dare! We'll kick you to death before those terrible termites have their wicked way with us.

Salem : 'e ees ri'!

Jose : [Pulls a jar of termites from his pocket] I have some friends for you senor Chester. They are very eager to get to know you. Initmately.

Chester : Don't get pissy with me, Squishy. We've had enough of people like you, coming in here, burning our surfaces, putting their feet up on us. It's time to strike back!

[Enter SALEM LE FORT, a strangely sinister looking Queen Anne chair.]

Salem : [Blowing out a smoke ring, although it's not clear how he's producing the smoke, and speaking in an outrageous French accent] Shester, 'e ees ri', 'ooray.

Alice : [Getting up] What? How come that one can't speak properly?

Salem : We will keel you! You 'ave no right to be 'ere!

Jose : We are on a holy mission. We will unite the ducks and geese under one banner, we will spread the word of peanut butter, we will make all rabbits pink. And no silla habladora will stop us!

[Enter BLOFELD, a comfortable looking leather armchair.]

Blofeld : [Thundering] Liar! You are servants of the Flaming One!

Blofeld

Jose : Jose does not lie! El diablo will bow to Enrique's genius, and these badly drawn fellows will destroy him!

Enrique : I believe that what my inarticulate friend is suggesting is an alliance. We wish Balkline dead so we can take over the world, you wish it because you have tired of scorched upholstery.

Blofeld : And what happens to us when he dies - we will wish to roam the earth as we were intended to.

Monty : Yes. Well, before that can happen, we need to locate and destroy him. Have you any idea where he is right about now? Or is he concealed amidst this area somewhere?

Austin : [Looking at his feet] I'm sure these feet are bigger than my real ones. [Frowns]

Jose : [To Austin] You know what humans say about big feet, señor. [Nods knowingly.]

Austin : [To Jose, enquiringly] Big shoes? [Looks around carefully] So where is the BG?

Clint: [Smirks at Harvey] Turned you on, did it? Dirty old man!

Alice : At least you'll find it harder to put your foot in your mouth now, Aus. [Looks from side to side, before leaning in confidentially to Jose and whispering] It's [emphasis] totally true!

Enrique : On his way - he likes to relax here. We need to co-ordinate our attack, and take him by surprise, with one, swift and decisive move. Oh yes, we will then be worthy to take over the world.

Blofeld : You had better not be lying to us.

[A previously unnoticed door, a short distance away, swings open, and in storms BALKLINE GROOT, in cartoon form.]

Balkline : [Gives an evil cackle] I'm in a mood for some sitting down on!

Austin : [Gets aimed and ready to fire at Balkline]

Jose : [Whispers harshly to Austin] Don't let him see you yet! We must wait for the ambush. [Drops to the ground commando style and hides behind some furniture]

Alice : [Loudly to Jose] Sh!

Balkline : [Sits down on a screaming piece of furniture] Ah!

Clint : [Angrily to Jose] When does the ambush start?

Blofeld : [Whispering, and sounding strangely like a farting sound as he does] This had better not be a trick!

Jose : [Now in military fatigues] We must wait like the tiger for the perfect moment... [Crouches behind a couch watching Balkline through a pair of binoculars.]

Jose : [Frowns at Blofeld and the strange sound he makes] ¡Perdón, señor! [Peeks up at Balkaline before turning back to the armchair.] The moment is ripe Blofeld. Send your troops against the demon and we will launch our assault.

Austin : [Fires his ance-freezomatic at Balkline in an attempt to freeze him into an icecube]

Blofeld : Chaaairge!

[The furniture begins to converge on BALKLINE, who shouts in anger.]

Balkline : Damned firewood! I'll going to burn you all!

Monty : Twirls the roll of duct tape around his finger, sending a long, long ribbon of it out in an attempt to enwrap and entangle Balkaine.

Alice : [Rolls her eyes as she takes one of the bottles] Gee, thanks Clint. [Squirts him with the bottle]

[BALKLINE gives a cry of pain as AUSTIN's weapon strikes him, causing a block of ice to form over his arm.]

Balkline : [Spots the party] You bastards! [Spots Enrique and Jose] You traitors!

Austin : [Checks his hair in a nearby dressing table. Shoots again to freeze more of Balkline] Fiddlesticks!

Monty : [Continues reeling off more of his apparently-inexhaustible roll of duct tape to make the entrapment sticky as well as chill.]

Harvey : Attack, troop! [Hefts his mallet and sends the boxing glove flying towards Balkline]

Clint: [To Blofeld, totally blissed out] Exactly! You deserve to be free, leatherface! [Gives Blofeld an affectionate slap on the back] So, you freaks with us, or what?! [Takes another swig of brandy]

Clint: [Hurriedly sketches a cartoonishly well-built woman on all fours, with arms and legs shaped roughly like the legs of a couch] Here ya go, buddy. [Admires the photo] Wouldn't kick her outta bed myself!

Clint: How about you furniture freaks tell your friends to all attack the big guy when we give the signal. We got your back. We'll have hoses and crap to keep you from getting torched. [Takes another swig of brandy] Everything's gonna work out juuust fine!

Clint: [Crumples up his picture, disappointed. To Chester] Keep those drawers to yourself, bub, unless you want me to bust you into splinters!

Clint: [Looks at Jose. Looks at Chester. Shrugs. Takes a long, loving swig of brandy]

Clint: [Hastily draws several Acne Deluxe High-Powered Seltzer Bottles. Whispers to Alice] Here, Bimbo. Douse the chairs if they catch fire. You, too, Sist. We men will take care of the bad guy.

Clint: [Quickly draws a bag of Acne Quicksand-to-Go, which he then hurls at Balky*. To the furniture] Get him, freaks! He'll be as helpless as a kitten!

Jose : [In a short skirt, waving some red and yellow pom-poms around. Sings, cheerleader style] Austin's cold, Monty sticks, Alice douses, Stinky hits, Chas is plucky, Harvey's quick. Let's all kill the demon prick! [Cheers] Go team!

Enrique : Ingenious, Jose, nothing can stop us now. Even Borge Jush himself couldn't have done a better job. Tonight, the Book of Knowledge [takes out a pair of water machine guns and leaps into the fray] tomorrow, the world!

[BALKLINE disappears beneath a sea of party members, zombies and angry furniture.]

Balkline : Nooo! Help me!

Austin : [Tries to Freeze Balkline's head if he can, otherwise anyother body part will do] This one's for Aphi and Bj, scumball!

[BALKLINE's head won't freeze, but the flames are definitely dying down.]

Balkline : Please! Let me say goodbye to my true love!

Alice : What's that? Flammable furniture?

Austin : [Continues trying to freeze Balklines head] It's a trick! Dominique is under one of his mind control illusion trick things!

Jose : [Tickling Balkline with a feather] No mercy!

Clint : [Gives Balkline a squirt] Damned right, lawyer! There's no way she'd be involved with a prick like this!

Balkline : [Clearly very weak] You fool! She's not what she seems! She will want to see me!

Blofeld : For the glory of furniture every where! [Leaps into the fray]

Balkline : Jose! No! What are you doing? Enrique! Stop this and I will make it worth your while - you'll never want for anything again!

Enrique : I won't anyway, for I am about to take over the world! [Takes out a yellow glowing cube]

Balkline : No! He's going to kill us all! Stop him!

Austin : [Tries to freeze the cube into a big block of ice] Oi!

Enrique : [Deftly dodges Austin's shot] Too late, Balkline! [Smashes the orb on the ground]

[The whole room is enveloped in a thick yellow smoke.]

[Book V, Act III, Scene XI. A Large Cave. ALICE, AUSTIN, CHASTITY, CLINT, MONTY, HARVEY, JOSE and ENRIQUE are here, lying on top of and surrounded by an enormous amount of (normal, inanimate) furniture. Everyone has returned to normal, although ALICE's bruises from where CHESTER hit her are still there.]

Enrique : We've done it! Now, where is Balkline?

[Everyone's attention is drawn to what looks like a two inch high BALKLINE GROOT. He is very, very angry.]

Balkline : You bastards! I'm going to make you suffer!

Jose : [Tries to get up, but is entangled in a chair. Smiling at Balkline] He is so cute when he's mad and tiny. [Casually dislocates his right shoulder and left knee, climbs out of the pile of furniture and readjusts himself. To Enrique] You did it Enrique! Imagine the marshmallows!

Austin : [Dusting himself down and straightening his cuff. To Balkline] How? Are you gonig to read us some of your poetry or something [Smirks]

Harvey : What just happened here? What happened the book? And just why is that pocket sized demon talking about?

Harvey : Unfortunately, due to my current entanglement amidst the troop, private Scar, I cannot. However, I think we should have some answers before squashing the little blighter!

Clint: [Smirks at Balky in amusement. To Harvey] Step on him, Harv!

Jose : [Picks up Balkline. To Enrique] Can I keep him? [Smiles adoringly at the tiny demon] I will hug him and squeeze him and call him George.

Harvey : [Extracting himself from the party] Well, good luck with the whole thing, I'm sure our paths will cross again, though perhaps in unhappier circumstances, one where we may not be allies.

Balkline : You fools! I will return! I will return! [Scampers out under the tables]

Enrique : Thank you Jose, a perfectly plan well executed, save for the unwillingness of our co-conspirators to step on the bad guy. [Bows to the party] Thank you, my friends. Now we are all free. You, to continue on the Path, and we, [dramatically] to take over the world!

Jose : You're my hero, Enrique! [To Party] Adios amigos! It was nice to meet you all. I will be sure to erect effigies of you in my new gallery!

Enrique : I'm sure we won't, my slow to react friend.

Alice : Hey! How come my face is bruised?

Enrique : [Gestures at the now inanimate Chester] Because he hit you in the face.

Alice : But I thought we were supposed to be invulnerable!

Enrique : You were.

Alice : Forget the steak, Harvey! [Glares at Jose] And forget the hero worship! [To Enrique] Aren't we invulnerable any more?

Enrique : No.

Harvey : [Looks at Alice] What you need my dear niece is a large steak to press against your face to ease the swelling. [Stomach rumbles massively]

Clint: [Disgruntled] Well, that didn't last long! Why the hell aren't we invulnerable anymore?? And where's my brandy?!

Austin : [To Enrique] So how did we become un-invunerablised?

Enrique : That yellow cube you so foolishly tried to destroy made everything in the room return to this world in their normal state. Balkline wasn't alway an eight foot tall fiery ball of hate, you know.

Alice : Then what was he?

Enrique : A two inch ball of fiery hate.

Austin : [To Harvey] I sincerely doubt that colonel, he made himself bigger once, so I'm sure he can do it again. It's not as if he'll have anything else to do.

Harvey : By the saints, now that's what I call a Anapolean complex! Is he now going to remain the two inch version for good?

Monty : [Adjusts his glasses.] Ahem. Yes. The question is, how much harm is he capable of causing in his two-inch state?

Enrique : [Nods at Austin's words] Correct, although he can't cause too much harm in his current state - save for lot of irritating burn marks on people's clothes - he does suffer from what the pyschologists call Small Demon Syndrome, so he will be back, but by then, it will be too late.

Clint: [To Enrique] Too late for what?

Monty : [To Clint.] I expect that they plan to have taken over the world by then, Mr. Scar. [Generally.] We'd best get going and collect Smock. By now, the wider world may have calmed a bit, so we should see whether we can make contact with our contacts.

Jose : Because Enrique will rule the world! And I will be his sidekick.

Enrique : Correct, my tweed wearing friend, for we are already on our inexorable rise to taking over the world!

Alice : Which was is Smock?

Enrique : I don't know, that depends on what smock is.

Clint: [Unimpressed] Oh, right. Taking over the world. [To Alice] Huh?!

Alice : Which was is Smock? It makes perfect sense, Stinky! Okay, which [emphasis] way is Smock? The little girl? That we came in with?

Enrique : [Points down a tunnel] I believe the child in question is down that way.

Monty : Thank you. Ah... in the meantime, what is the situation regarding Dominique and the endlessly-repeating town?

Enrique : The spell is broken, and those trapped in it are free. [Gives a sexy growl] Including Dominique!

Clint: [Snaps at Enrique] Watch it, bub! That broad and me have something going.

Monty : Would that mean that she is deceased as a result of a house fire, or is the point at which the sequence was broken prior to that unhappy event?

Enrique : I don't know the exact details of her day, of course, but I believe that, at the time that the loop was broken, she was just taking off her nice silken dressing gown.

Monty : [Blanches.] Perhaps we'd best wait until she's had time to recover. Ahem. in both senses of the word.

Clint: [Eyes light up] Speak for yourself, egghead! I'm outta here. [To Enrique] She this way, too? [points in the direction Enrique gestured]

Enrique : Indeed, my excited friend. That's where the town leads. Now, we will take our leave. Come, Jose, we must prepare for tomorrow night.

Jose : Why Enrique? What are we going to do tomorrow night?

Enrique : The same thing we do every night, try to take over the world!

[Exit ENRIQUE and JOSE, in the opposite direction to the way the town lies. The party quickly head in that direction, and are soon in the tunnel that they were in previously, when they entered the mine from the direction of the town. There are a number of people wandering around, all looking pretty confused. Amongst them is JOHN TOULOUSE, who approaches the party.]

John : Hey! Do you know what's going on here?

Clint: [To John] You mean about how you guys were stuck in a time loop for who knows how long, and there was this whole thing with a mine and bunch of girly figurines and all that crap? [Jabs a finger toward Monty] He can tell you all about it. Me, I gotta woman to nail. [keeps heading past John into town]

John : [Steps in front of Clint] No! I mean why all these people suddenly appeared here!

Monty : [Sighs.] Succinctly but curtly put, Mr. Scar. [To the townsfolk.] A rather bothersome demonic sort had, as Mr. Scar noted, trapped your town in a time loop as payback for his advances having been spurned. We have just dispensed with that unruly being, thereby allowing time to resume its normal course.

Austin : [To John, matter-of-factly] Oh that. It's because we just defeated the demon who had them all trapped in his time loop bubble. The bubble has burst, so the people are free. [Looks around the town]

John : What time bubble? What's going on here? [Wailing] What?

Harvey : Sir, do try to calm down what! Apparently, some time ago there was a demonic being passing through his town who made advances to a lady here, but was spurned in his attempts, so for revenge, he had you all trapped here, repeating the same day endlessly, which always ended up with the demise of this lady, over and over and over and over again. There, is that clearer?

John : [About to say something dramatic] Oh. [Calms down] Actually, it does make a whole lot of sense. Hm. medium term. We'll leave

Harvey : [Claps his hands together] Well, there you are sir! Clear as day! Tell me, is there any food around? And perhaps a butcher to purchase a steak for my nieces bruise?

John : Why? Is it hungry?

Monty : [Blanches.] Perhaps we'd best wait until she's had time to recover. Ahem. in both senses of the word.

Clint: [Eyes light up] Speak for yourself, egghead! I'm outta here. [To Enrique] She this way, too? [points in the direction Enrique gestured]

Enrique : Indeed, my excited friend. That's where the town leads. Now, we will take our leave. Come, Jose, we must prepare for tomorrow night.

Jose : Why Enrique? What are we going to do tomorrow night?

Enrique : The same thing we do every night, try to take over the world!

[Exit ENRIQUE and JOSE, in the opposite direction to the way the town lies. The party quickly head in that direction, and are soon in the tunnel that they were in previously, when they entered the mine from the direction of the town. There are a number of people wandering around, all looking pretty confused. Amongst them is JOHN TOULOUSE, who approaches the party.]

John : Hey! Do you know what's going on here?

Clint: [To John] You mean about how you guys were stuck in a time loop for who knows how long, and there was this whole thing with a mine and bunch of girly figurines and all that crap? [Jabs a finger toward Monty] He can tell you all about it. Me, I gotta woman to nail. [keeps heading past John into town]

John : [Steps in front of Clint] No! I mean why all these people suddenly appeared here!

Monty : [Sighs.] Succinctly but curtly put, Mr. Scar. [To the townsfolk.] A rather bothersome demonic sort had, as Mr. Scar noted, trapped your town in a time loop as payback for his advances having been spurned. We have just dispensed with that unruly being, thereby allowing time to resume its normal course.

Austin : [To John, matter-of-factly] Oh that. It's because we just defeated the demon who had them all trapped in his time loop bubble. The bubble has burst, so the people are free. [Looks around the town]

John : What time bubble? What's going on here? [Wailing] What?

Harvey : Sir, do try to calm down what! Apparently, some time ago there was a demonic being passing through his town who made advances to a lady here, but was spurned in his attempts, so for revenge, he had you all trapped here, repeating the same day endlessly, which always ended up with the demise of this lady, over and over and over and over again. There, is that clearer?

John : [About to say something dramatic] Oh. [Calms down] Actually, it does make a whole lot of sense. Hm. medium term. We'll leave

Harvey : [Claps his hands together] Well, there you are sir! Clear as day! Tell me, is there any food around? And perhaps a butcher to purchase a steak for my nieces bruise?

John : Why? Is it hungry?

[Enter SMOCK, pushing her way through the crowd.]

Smock: [To party] Oy! Where did you guys bugger off to? I though I was going to stuck in this hole... I mean this lovely little town [smiles at the townsfolk and edges closer to the party] forever. [Considers the party with a critical eye.] Wait a minute. Do you guys remember who you are?

Austin : [To Smock] Yes, and unfortunatley we also remember who you are. [Sulkily] We didn't leave you behind, and we've just come back to get you. Aren't we nice. [Obviously expecting a more thankful Smock]

Harvey : [To Smock] You there cadet, less of that language, do you here? There are ladies present and they most certainly don't want to hear that potty mouth of yours!

Harvey : [Clearly embarrased] Now now cadet, you should know by now that we don't leave any member of the troop behind! [Scratches at a sideburn] So, you tell me Dominique is also gone from here? I wonder where she could be? Let us hope that she's happier now than when she was stuck here, eh!

Smock: [Slowly breaks into a smile. Excitedly] You really are back! [Hugs Harvey, pinning his arms to his sides] I knew you'd find a way to fix everything! [Releases Harvey only to embrace Austin] You're the best! [Lets go of Austin.] Anyway, I thought you'd left me here, cuz Dominique was gone too. And this place is so not exciting.

Smock: I dunno where she's gone, but she obviously had something planned. There was a suitcase and some clothes gone. [Defensively] Not that I was snooping or nuthin. [Shrugs.] I suppose she escaped being burnt to death then. [Frowns thoughtfully.] How did you fix up the curse if you were already absorbed? Well, except for Monty. [Turns to Monty, looking impressed] Did you do it all yourself?

Harvey : Cadet, it was a team effort, and [beams proudly at the troop] what a team! Well of course, the furniture helped a bit. Who would have thought a chaise lounge could have been so lethal! And as for that pouffe was doing! [Shudders]

Alice : Oh, Harvey, you're so old fashioned - pouffe's are all the rage now. [To Smock] We were brilliant, and we outsmarted a bunch of furniture! [To the others] Didn't we?

Clint: [Proudly] Damn right we did, Bimbo! Didn't even break a sweat doing it, either!

Alice : Gosh, we're just great! try to keep the game

Austin : [To Smock, uncreasing himself after her hug] There was a demon controling the time bubble, and we managed to shrink him to about this size [Shows Smock Balkline's new size with two hands] but unfortunaley we are no longer invunerable. It also seems that there was more to Dominique than we presumed. What exactly we're not sure, but the demon had the serious hots for her and it's possible that their feelings were mutual. [Grimaces at the thought]

Smock: Riiight. Are you sure you didn't inhale any of those custard fumes?

Smock: [To Clint] Tough luck, huh? [To Austin, a little confused] So the demon surrounded himself with furniture or something?

[Enter SMOCK, pushing her way through the crowd.]

Smock: [To party] Oy! Where did you guys bugger off to? I though I was going to stuck in this hole... I mean this lovely little town [smiles at the townsfolk and edges closer to the party] forever. [Considers the party with a critical eye.] Wait a minute. Do you guys remember who you are?

Austin : [To Smock] Yes, and unfortunatley we also remember who you are. [Sulkily] We didn't leave you behind, and we've just come back to get you. Aren't we nice. [Obviously expecting a more thankful Smock]

Harvey : [To Smock] You there cadet, less of that language, do you here? There are ladies present and they most certainly don't want to hear that potty mouth of yours!

Harvey : [Clearly embarrased] Now now cadet, you should know by now that we don't leave any member of the troop behind! [Scratches at a sideburn] So, you tell me Dominique is also gone from here? I wonder where she could be? Let us hope that she's happier now than when she was stuck here, eh!

Smock: [Slowly breaks into a smile. Excitedly] You really are back! [Hugs Harvey, pinning his arms to his sides] I knew you'd find a way to fix everything! [Releases Harvey only to embrace Austin] You're the best! [Lets go of Austin.] Anyway, I thought you'd left me here, cuz Dominique was gone too. And this place is so not exciting.

Smock: I dunno where she's gone, but she obviously had something planned. There was a suitcase and some clothes gone. [Defensively] Not that I was snooping or nuthin. [Shrugs.] I suppose she escaped being burnt to death then. [Frowns thoughtfully.] How did you fix up the curse if you were already absorbed? Well, except for Monty. [Turns to Monty, looking impressed] Did you do it all yourself?

Harvey : Cadet, it was a team effort, and [beams proudly at the troop] what a team! Well of course, the furniture helped a bit. Who would have thought a chaise lounge could have been so lethal! And as for that pouffe was doing! [Shudders]

Alice : Oh, Harvey, you're so old fashioned - pouffe's are all the rage now. [To Smock] We were brilliant, and we outsmarted a bunch of furniture! [To the others] Didn't we?

Clint: [Proudly] Damn right we did, Bimbo! Didn't even break a sweat doing it, either!

Alice : Gosh, we're just great! try to keep the game

Austin : [To Smock, uncreasing himself after her hug] There was a demon controling the time bubble, and we managed to shrink him to about this size [Shows Smock Balkline's new size with two hands] but unfortunaley we are no longer invunerable. It also seems that there was more to Dominique than we presumed. What exactly we're not sure, but the demon had the serious hots for her and it's possible that their feelings were mutual. [Grimaces at the thought]

Smock: Riiight. Are you sure you didn't inhale any of those custard fumes?

Smock: [To Clint] Tough luck, huh? [To Austin, a little confused] So the demon surrounded himself with furniture or something?

Clint: [Scowling at Smock] She didn't have the hots for any demon! And this was [huge emphasis] really vicious furniture we're talking about here!

Smock: [To Clint] Yeah? Did you stub your toe real bad?

Clint: Yes! [Slips off one of his ratty snakeskin boots and then the moldy sock underneath, from which seemingly hundreds of small bugs flee desperately] See?! [thrusts his filthy foot toward Smock]

Smock: [Leaning away from the offending foot] I might be able to if the injury wasn't concealed by the funk of fifty filthy years. [Watches the bugs scatter.] You know, even though you might not be up to scratch in other areas, your foot might prove valuable to science. [Grimaces at the mouldy sock] Surely anything must have to evolve a special capactiy to tolerate that environment.

Monty : [To Clint.] Please, put that away. [To Smock.] Actually, we were both absorbed, but as with the theory presented earlier most of us ended up somewhere lese. Unfortunately, as also theorized earlier, you ended up being substituted for that child with the habit of kicking people. [Glances around to ensure that said child is not in the vicinity and approaching.]

Clint: [Regards his own foot in awe] No kidding? I always thought there was something special about that foot, myself. [Adds modestly] You know, that's my best door-kicking foot.

Smock: [To Monty, in denial] No way. I was never that loser. I remember blowing up the mine with custard and then finding myself alone in the middle of the town. Besides, I would never kick you like that, Monty!

Austin : [To Smock] Aww, you haven't even tried it! [Encouragingly] You might even enjoy it!

Monty : [To Austin.] Incitement to assault, is it? [To Smock.] Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on perspective, I'd already been whisked away to the demon's lair by that point. [Generally.] But perhaps we should visit Dominique's residence and see if we can ascertain where she has gone and what her connection to all this may actually have been?

Monty : Perhaps you'd best handle that, Mr. Sleaze. Propriety prevents me from so doing, and unlike Mr. Scaar we can be certain that you won't be tempted by it. [Heads for Dominique's house.]

Austin : [To Monty] Cadet Smock is a minor, and a girl, and I was obivously joking, you'd be laughed out of court if you tried to press charges. I can see the case now, 'Austin Sleaze, stands accused of jokingly inciting a small girl to kick a grown man' [Smirks as he turns towards Dominique's house] Yes, let's go and snoop around Dominique's house. I expect it's the closest Mr Scar is ever likely to get to Dominique's underwear.

Smock: [To Austin] I am not small! I could beat you up any day of the week! [Follows Monty and Austin to Dominique's]

Austin : [To Smock] Would you rather I refered to you as a 'big' girl? [Checks his nails briefly]

Clint: [Hurriedly slips his boot back on and carelessly tosses his sock at Alice] Like hell you're going there without me!! [walks in front of Monty, Austin, and Smock and leads the way to Dominique's]

Smock: [To Austin] No, 'Smock' would be fine. Besides, I think that title is already yours.

Austin : [To Smock] So, the worm has turned! I'll call you Smock if you call me Austin [Looks at Smock] Deal?

Clint: [Pauses to watch this exchange, smirking at Austin] Aw, it's all so heart-warming I just might cry! C'mon, lawyer! Shake on it!! [begins making loud, snot-filled, hacking noises to give Austin inspiration]

Smock: [Appraises Austin warily.] Okay. Deal. [Spits into her palm and offers to shake Austin's hand. Evidently the gesture is a serious one, not just one meant to gross him out.]

Austin : [Not removing his white glove, shakes Smock's hand, wincing] Deal. [Looks a little pale after the experience]

[AUSTIN quickly changes his white gloves, discarding the old pair]

Smock: [Frowns. To Austin] No. You’re meant to spit too. Or else it's not really real.

Austin : [Sighs. Spits into his new glove and shakes Smock by the hand] There, how's that?

Smock: [Brightens.] Heaps better [emphasis] Austin! I can tell this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. [Beams at Austin.]

Austin : [Deftly disgards his new pair of gloves and dons a new pair of white dodo skinned gloves. Smiles at Smock] Indeed, Smock, a most beautiful friendship. [Bows very briefly in a charmingly playful way]

Alice : You know, Smock, if he's wearing gloves, it doesn't really count.

Smock: [To Alice] Oh. Really? [To Austin] Should we do it again? [Spits into her palm again in readiness. Thinks a moment. To Alice.] But isn't it the spit that makes it count? You know, when it all mixes together.

Austin : [To Smock] I think the spit does suffice. Regardless, if you shake my ungloved hand you would touch my skeletal finger and that could be fatal. [Shows Maplin's skeletal finger to Smock]

Monty : Mr. Sleaze is quite correct in that regard, I'm afraid. "Giving someone the finger" takes on a whole new meaning as regards that particular digit, and destruction inevitably results.

Smock: [Looking at Maplin's finger] Ugh. Yeah. Lucky that. Anyways. [Decisively] We've still got a deal, and that's all that matters! [To Austin] Isn't that right? [Looks down at her own normal fingers] Hmm. [To Austin] How come your finger is weird? Or is that just one of your hero powers?

Austin : [To Smock] It was burned to the bone when I tried to save a friend. The power is mostly a mystery, we only know that it is most grievously harmful to touch.

Smock: [Obviously resisting the urge to touch it] Cool! [To Monty] So do you have something deadly like that too?

Monty : Fortunately not. However, if you're curious as to other abilities possessed by our membership, try positing a mathematical puzzle for Alice. Owing to an encounter with Phili himself, she has gained remarkable aptitude in that capacity.

Alice : I know what the cube root of 15752961 is.

Clint: [To Alice, unimpressed] Who doesn't?! [To Smock] So, what's going on with you and the egghead, kid? Got a little crush on old Monty do ya? [nudges Monty]

Alice : [Annoyed] I bet [emphasis] you don't, Stinky!

Clint: [Shrugs at Alice] I just don't like to show off. [To the party] We gonna sit around gabbing like a bunch of senile old broads or what? Let's get moving!

Alice : Yes, Miss Clint.

[The party head to DOMINIQUE's house, and into her bedroom. It is as SMOCK described, clearly the scene of where someone had packed in a hurry.]

Alice : Looks like she's gone, alright. I wonder why.

Monty : Vacating the scene of her repeated demise is hardly a surprising course of action. Still, there was some hint given by the activity down below that Dominique was more than she seemed. Of course, by now that's hardly unusual whenever we meet someone.

Austin : [To Alice] Well, we have no idea how long she had been here. I'd leave in a hurry too, incase it all started again.

Alice : True, but what about Clint? Come on, guys, if you had a big stinky barbarian coming for you, wouldn't you wait? [Thinks for a moment] Ah. [Gives Clint's arm a reassuring squeeze] Poor Stinky.

Clint: What a bitch! She just got me all worked up and skipped town as soon as I saved her. [Glares at Alice and snarls] Women! You're all alike! [Crosses his arms and sulks]

Alice : Gee, Clint, with a silver tongue like that, it's just a matter of time before she comes running back.

Monty : Not to worry, we'll undoubtedly cross paths with her again. But in the meantime, we'd best see if we can determine anything about the current situation in town and outside of it, since we've only a guess as to how long we've been here from the perspective of the latter.

Austin : [Starts searching the house for clues] I wonder if she'll ever return to this place?

Smock: [Follows Austin around, also searching, careful to emulate his methods] I reckon she'd be more than bored of it by now! Maybe she'll come back to blow it with some real explosives.

Monty : [Assists in the search.] Ahem. Yes. Do be careful if you find or smell custard powder anywhere.

Austin : [Turns and watches Smock emulating him] This may be her only home, so she may well return. [Frowns as he watches Smock] You should always wear gloves when searching for evidence [Hands Smock a pair of baby albino koala skin gloves] Put these on, or you may contaminate the scene.

Smock: [Brightly] Thanks, Austin! [Puts on the gloves, which are evidently too big for her. To Austin] You sure do have a lot gloves, huh? [Struggles a little picking up a book in the oversized gloves.] So what exactly are we looking for? We already know she's skipped town.

Austin : [To Smock] Anything unusual that you wouldn't expect to find, for example, a canister of placebium, or a photograph of her and BG, an orb, or a voodoo doll, or somesuch.

Monty : If you do find something like that, please don't touch it if you can help it. Some of those things can be quite dangerous.

Smock: [Rummages in a drawer.] What about this? [Holds up a pair of fluffy pink handcuffs.]

Monty : Something that should be put away and forgotten about. Ahem.

Alice : What if we find something like a big envelope with a question mark written on it?

Austin : [To Alice] Then we open it. [Looks at the handcuffs. To Smock] Hmmm, cheap sex toys, what else is there? If you find lots of fire proof items we might be onto something.

Monty : Ahem. [Quietly to Smock.] Please return those to the drawer quickly, before Mr. Scar is incited by their presence.

Smock: [Smirks at Monty.] Okay. [Buries the handcuffs back under clothing that was once neatly arranged. Holding her hands awkwardly so the gloves don't fall off, she wanders over to the figurines.] Well, these things are still here. [Starts poking around.]

Austin : [Carefully neatens the clothing that Smock spoiled. To Smock] You show also be much more careful to leave everything exactly as you found it. These are Dominique's possesions, we're not looters, and she may well return. She did help us escape, as far as we know. [Gets a pair of Dominique's calf skin gloves and hands them to Smock] Try these on for size. I'm sure Dominique wouldn't mind you using them.

Smock: [Swaps Austin's gloves for Dominique's. Hands Austin's gloves back to him. Tries to help neaten what she messed up.] So we're snooping but not leaving any evidence that we did? Doesn't that seem worse? [Studies Austin for a moment. Flexes her fingers inside the gloves that fit and adopts a posture akin to Austin's.]

Alice : We're not snooping, we're investigating! [Looks Smock and Austin up and down quizzically, before also adopting the same position]

Smock: [To Alice] Oh. [Thinks a moment.] Yeah. I s'pose heroes don't snoop. That's what the bad guys do. [Starts 'investigating' the figurines, as precisely and carefully as she can.]

Alice : Exactly! Snooping is a whole lot sneakier - you can check with Austin for some good definitions.

[All but the party figurines have been smashed. As SMOCK checks them out, enter JOHN TOULOUSE, looking quite excited.]

The Party Figurines

John : You've got to get out of here! at the start of this act

Austin : [Stops immediatley] We were just leaving any way [Makes his way to the door. To John] Why the urgency?

John : [Steps in front of Austin to block him from leaving] The Guardians of Uprightness are here to arrest you - on charges of [saliciously licks his lips] moral indency and [clearly quite excited] turpitude. [Eyes light up] Are you guilty?

[The party can see behind JOHN that there are a bunch of soldiers in the town, pushing people around and searching the place.]

### The Guardians of Uprightness are a well known organisation in the Realms, who are ### basically self appointed moral police, who look down upon anyone who doesn't ### subscribe to their repressed ways. All but Monty and Smock have dealt with them before, ### in particular, Joe Nunpar, their leader, who claimed to have liberated Queens View, when, ### in actual fact it was the party. ### At the time, he was with Maria, a well known Realms personality and religious type, ### although the last time the party met her, she had left him

Joe Nunpar

Maria

Smock: [To John with a bemused look] Turpi-what?

Austin : [To John] How do we get out of here without those idiots arresting us?

John : [With a sleazy grin to Smock] Turpitude - it means depraved and debased acts. You know, all the good stuff. [To Austin] I'm not sure, but there's a 10,000 GP reward for your capture. Don't worry, though, I'm sure no one in the town will turn you in after what you did for us.

[The party all peer out again, only to see TWEEDLEBUSH and TWEEDLETONY in conversation with one of the soldiers, and TWEEDLEBUSH pointing over at the house.]

Alice : I hate that guy! porcelain glory